The Kia EV9 Harmonizes Nature and Modernity

The robust yet graceful vehicle highlights a brand strengthening their design philosophy

Kia‘s newest electric vehicle, the EV9, stands out from its predecessors not only because of its bold, defined exterior, but also because it denotes the brand’s evolving design philosophy in an exciting way. For the last decade, the automaker has embarked on a new stylistic journey, as the thoughtful and stunning EV6 indicates. Solidifying the brand’s investment in, and integration of, design as a central ethos, the EV9 is a full-size, three-row electric SUV. With a confident and robust outlook, it foretells how Kia will face the future and what drivers should expect from their vehicles. We had the opportunity to get hands-on with the car in Seoul for a sneak peek and were impressed both with the vehicle and the team behind it.

The underpinnings of the EV9 continue the automaker’s design concept of  “Opposites United.” Kia’s Head of Design, Kareem Habib, explains, “Basically it embraces contrast. It embraces things that come together that we don’t necessarily believe come together. We think that represents life, represents the diversity and the messiness of life. That is, in our view, the beauty of these things that are not necessarily perfect.” In particular, a juxtaposition of nature and the manmade runs throughout the car’s exterior which is characterized by clean, defined lines and sculptural surfaces.

“There are a few things we wanted to reinterpret and one of them is this authentic SUV or upright typology,” continues Habib. “We have these very high, boxy triangular fenders, but at the same time we have a very sleek bottom with a very low center of gravity. A low center of gravity for an SUV is something unusual.” This contrast further leans into “Opposites United” as it creates a strong yet graceful exterior.

Inside, the EV9 emphasizes comfort and tranquility, defining a space that aims to be more than something that gets you from one place to another. As such, the interior becomes a hub for lounging. Flat-floor architecture and a long wheelbase create a generous space for occupants to connect and kick back with lounge-style comfort in all three rows (the vehicle is built on Kia’s Electric Global Modular Platform, E-GMP). This is further emphasized with the design’s nod to negative space. As Habib says, “You’ll see on the dashboard, on the doors on the console, we’re not just working with the object itself, but we tried to work with the space between the objects. We actually tried to create negative space to amplify that feeling of space.” And it works, very well.

Core to the automaker’s journey to refine and refocus their design philosophy, the EV9 translates intent to action as it shows a brand ready to approach design as more than aesthetics. “I think we’re getting to a point where there’s a certain maturity and understanding of design,” Kia’s SVP Global Chief Brand Officer and Chief Experience Officer, Artur Martins, tells us. “We are trying to build that identity, trying to make it clear, make it compelling for people who are looking for something new, for something better, for something that makes their life easier and more pleasant.”

For Martins, and the teams at Kia as a whole, design is not approached as a separate or lesser discipline. Rather, it’s an integral part of it, a means of realizing the brand’s strategy. He continues, “It’s not just designing the object, but it’s actually designing the interaction with the object. Lighting is an important part of it.”

This is evident from the EV9’s front view, which depicts a solid volume and recognizable three-dimensional “Tiger Face” expression. The identity is enhanced through lighting, combining vertical headlamps and slim daytime running lights. The result is the EV9’s “Star Map” LED design, an animated digital lighting pattern that is becoming a signature of Kia’s “Digital Tiger Face” for future EV models. It exudes confidence, clarity and calmness—perhaps an apt summary of how the brand is cultivating its exciting new design language as well.

The EV9 will roll out later this year, arriving in the US in Q3 or Q4. Pricing has not yet been released.

Images courtesy of Kia

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