LA Auto Show 2021: Kia EV9 Concept previews incoming flagship electric SUV, has a range of up to 480 km

Kia has taken the wraps off its latest electric vehicle (EV) concept – the Kia EV9 SUV. Previewed in hazy teasers a few days ago, the Kia EV9 has made its global debut at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show alongside its mechanical cousin, the Hyundai Seven SUV concept, and while the two share underpinnings, the EV9 is a pretty distinct take on what Kia thinks a flagship electric SUV should look like. While it is clearly a concept at this point, the EV9 previews Kia’s upcoming range-topping three-row electric SUV.

Inspired by the ‘contrasts of nature’, the EV9, with its upright proportions, squared-off front-end and block-like body is in the mould of some iconic, burly SUVs and will appeal to fans of this body style. Measuring in at 4,930 mm in length, 2,055 mm in width and 1,790mm in height, the Kia EV9 is taller and wider than Kia’s biggest combustion engine SUV, the Kia Telluride, and also has a substantially longer 3,100 mm wheelbase. In fact, the EV9 is closer in size to the new Range Rover, which will also be available as an all-electric SUV in the time to come.

The Kia EV9 Concept is larger than the Telluride, and is nearly the same size as the new Range Rover. Image: Kia

Design highlights of the EV9 comprise what Kia calls the ‘Digital Tiger Face’, which brings features slim, L-shaped LED lights up front, each flanked by a set of six circular daytime running lights that light up perforations in the otherwise sealed-off front-end. The EV9 has muscular wheel arches, blacked-out pillars (with a triangular shape for the D-pillar), a large glass roof, rear-hinged doors and slender LED tail-lights.

The new air vent design up front is said to reduce the frontal mass of the vehicle and greatly improve aerodynamics, and the hood vent duct area houses a solar panel that helps replenish the battery in sunny conditions. To further refine aerodynamics, the EV9 is equipped with 22-inch aero-focused triangular alloy wheels, retractable roof rails that can be tucked away when not needed, and ditches wing mirrors for cameras.

A 27-inch ultra-wide screen is the standout in an otherwise pared-back interior. Image: Kia

Inside, the Kia EV9 Concept has a funky pop-up steering wheel and a 27-inch ultra-wide screen that combines the digital driver display and the touchscreen infotainment system a standout in an otherwise minimalistic interior. Recycled fish nets have been used for the EV9’s flooring, and its seat fabrics utilise recycled plastic bottles and wool fibres. The EV9 will only have vegan leather on the inside, and the company is working to phase out the use of leather in its vehicles going forward.

There are three interior ‘modes’ Kia has outlined for the EV9 – ‘Active’, where all seats face forward when the SUV is moving; ‘Pause’, where the front row seats swivel to face passengers seated in the third row, with the second row folding to become a table, and ‘Enjoy’, where all three rows turn around and the tailgate opens to provide a clear view of the surroundings. Pause and Enjoy modes can only be engaged when the SUV is stationary.

The production version of the Kia EV9 Concept is expected to have a dual-motor setup with a total peak output of 580 hp. Image: Kia

Based on the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP architecture, the production-spec Kia EV9 – in range-topping form – is expected to get a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery and a dual-motor setup, which would bless it with a combined peak output of close to 580 hp. Kia says the EV9 has a range of up to 480 kilometres on a full charge, and with a 350 kW DC fast charger, can go from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in less than 30 minutes.

The production version of the Kia EV9 is expected to debut sometime in 2023, and while many of the concept car elements are likely to be dropped, expect the SUV’s design to remain more or less unchanged when it hits the road. Kia has previously revealed its desire to bring electric vehicles to India in the coming years, and while there’s no official communication about it, the EV9 could well serve as a halo product for the Korean carmaker in the Indian market. If it does make its way here, expect the Kia EV9 to be a range-topping offering, possibly brought in as a full import and commanding a fitting premium.

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