2023.04.18 Kia

In Harmony With Nature: The EV9 Presents Its Futuristic Design For The Era Of The EV

The Kia EV9 embodied a future-oriented and strong large SUV through the design of an advanced electric vehicle. Here, the exterior designers who completed a bold yet iconic design in harmony with nature, explain the behind-the-scenes story.

Kia’s second dedicated electric vehicle EV9, which is rapidly transitioning to an electrification brand, has finally been unveiled. The EV9 is the flagship model of Kia’s electrified lineup; Among the five concepts of Kia’s design philosophy ‘Opposite United (creative fusion of opposite concepts)’, this model takes ‘Bold for Nature’ as its theme. It harmonizes the wondrous beauty of Mother Nature with simple, future-oriented design.

Kia Next Design Exterior Researcher Sang-hyeok Han (left) and senior researcher Byung-kyu Park (right) explained the design of the EV9

In addition, unlike other models, the design of the EV9 is characterized by the fact that the body, lamp, and wheel sectors were developed individually, followed by close consultation and combination to enhance the degree of perfection. Among the designers in Kia Next Design’s Exterior Department in charge of EV9’s exterior design, researcher Sang-hyeok Han (body, Kia Next Design Exterior Team 2), senior researcher Byung-kyu Park (lamps), senior researcher Hyun-soo Kim (wheels) about the design of the EV9.

The design of a large electric SUV completed with boldness in harmony with nature

The EV9 embodies a bold design that harmonizes with nature by combining simple, smooth surfaces and angular formative beauty

Q. How did you depict the theme of ‘Bold for Nature’ that runs through the EV9’s exterior design?

Researcher Sang-hyeok Han | The EV9’s design is like a ‘beautiful sculpture on a rock’. Four wheels and angular fenders create the feeling of a rock in nature, and the smooth surface connected to the body with a relaxed sense of space boldly harmonizes with nature. The rock-hard fender volume creates a confident SUV, while the soft, voluminous side body visually shows a low center of gravity. Through this contrast, the Opposite United, that is, the creative fusion of contrasting things, is dramatically completed. Although this is not a final mass production model, the design theme of the EV9 remains, with only some minor differences.

EV9’s exterior lamps were created through a star map exterior lamp design with advanced optical technology, the wonderful beauty of nature, and a commitment to sustainability

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | The exterior lamp was inspired by the constellations in the night sky and the linear beauty of nature. Stars have aroused awe since ancient times, are uncharted territory, and are something we are to explore. We came up with an exterior lamp design called Star Map; This embodies our longing for constellations that transcend time and space, and the wonders of nature that are strong, lively, and concise yet not so simple. A line connecting the brightest star (main beam) to the smaller stars (daytime running lights) forms one headlamp. Here, the company’s commitment to sustainability and the future of exterior lamps, which are an ensemble of cutting-edge technology, are embedded in the EV9’s lamp design.

Inspired by a digital sensibility: The digital tiger face

The EV9’s clean tiger face emphasizes the simple and refined characteristics of an electric vehicle

Q. Kia’s signature design element, the tiger face, has evolved since the EV9. Please explain the characteristics of the two faces of the EV9, the digital tiger face and the clean tiger face.

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | The Tiger Face housed everything - the sustainability of the electrified powertrain, the majesty and confidence that a flagship SUV should have, and Kia’s design philosophy and its new slogan, ‘Movement that Inspires’. The center lamp, which consists of 84 ‘L’ shaped patterns, turns into a complete cube shape as it heads toward the headlamps. And this, combined with the small cube module the size of a thumbnail, presents a new experience of dynamic lighting animation with digital sensibility. The wide front part created through the neat side of the clean tiger face emphasizes the refined characteristics of electric cars, whereas the thin lens module emphasizes the simple beauty.

EV9’s digital tiger face maximizes digital sensibility with eight dynamic welcome light patterns

Q. Please elaborate on the characteristics of the digital tiger face that housed the new lamp technology.

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | The center lamp of the digital tiger face provides eight dynamic welcome light pattern animations that stimulate digitized emotions. When the door is unlocked, the system activates patterns with different lighting animations, creating a futuristic atmosphere through lively movements. The final pattern that appears at the end of the animation works with position lights at night.

The small cube modules of the Digital Tiger Face are individually controlled. In addition, the Adaptive Headlamps combine with High Beam Assist to provide an Intelligent Headlamp System (IFS) feature that helps the EV9 driver maintain visibility while reducing glare for other drivers. The harmony of such precise compact optical system technology and emotional digital design reveals Kia’s brand philosophy of ‘Movement that Inspires’.

The robust and dynamic design of the side /rear view of the EV9

Researcher Sang-hyeok Han said that the sleek sides and the volume of the angled fenders harmonize, emphasizing the Opposite United design philosophy, which means creative fusion of opposites

Q. The EV9’s side and back also reveal a neat atmosphere and refined sense of volume. Please explain the design features of the side and back of the body.

Researcher Sang-hyeok Han | The side silhouette of the EV9 gives a simple and solid impression. A long hood with a sleek surface, an upright black A-pillar, a refined roof line, and a front/rear composed of vertical lines harmonize to emphasize a solid impression. These elements are important in shaping the flagship SUV. The polygonal volume of the rear fender is also one of the notable features of the EV9. The contrast between the vertically stretched cladding area and the voluminous upper fender that reflects light emphasizes Opposite United, which is the most dramatic part of the bold design that harmonizes with nature. In addition, the matching rear lamp further emphasizes the sense of unity.

According to senior researcher Byung-kyu Park, the strength and wideness of the EV9 stand out through the design of the rear lamp inspired by constellations

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | Three planes created by straight lines converge on the rear lamp. We designed a unique star map shape so that it could naturally blend into the overall shape of the EV9 and stand out from the back. While emphasizing the wideness of the body to the left and right, it extends vertically to emphasize the strength of the SUV. Even the turn signals in the form of thin pins contain technical aesthetics.

The wheels of the EV9 form a sense of unity with the aesthetics of the EV9, which presented a new direction for electric vehicle design

Q. The solid-looking wheel design is outstanding. What message does the wheel design convey?

Senior researcher Hyun-soo Kim | The EV9 housed Kia’s new design philosophy and required a unique wheel design to match the new body shape. So, the polygonal and triangular design elements on the body were refined and applied more concisely and geometrically. This is the constant effort of Kia design to provide high satisfaction - not only the perfect EV9 design that achieves a sense of unity from the body to the wheels, but also the attractive side view.

The EV9’s wheel design, which consists of polygonal and triangular elements, enhances the attractiveness of the EV9

Q. Please explain the design of each wheel from 19 inches to 21 inches.

Senior researcher Hyun-soo Kim | The design of the 19-inch wheels emphasized its size; The combination of the asymmetrical shape of the face and the stable square star-shaped cover delivers a dynamic yet solid impression. The EV9’s 20-inch wheels are the first triangular wheel design. By inverting and overlapping the two triangles, the aluminum wheel part and the plastic cover part were designed to overlap each other. In addition, the dynamic and stable feeling of the triangle completed the wheel design with a unique personality. The 21-inch wheel is designed exclusively for the top trim of the EV9, pursuing a dignified and strong presence. Unlike other wheels, the uniqueness of the 21-inch wheel is that the spoke shape is implemented in a more three-dimensional way.

Design with meticulous consideration of aerodynamic performance

The EV9 applied aerodynamic design elements to various parts of the body, such as the shape of the boat tail, angular corners, and air curtain holes, to secure a driving range

Q. Aerodynamics is important in terms of the efficiency of electric vehicles. As the EV9 is a large SUV, it must have been difficult to secure the range. Please explain the design elements considering aerodynamics.

Researcher Sang-hyeok Han | The shape of the boat tail narrows toward the rear, and the lower part of the bumper is angled to prevent air from flowing. The angular shape of the rear corner also helps with aerodynamic performance. There are also functional elements that are not visible, such as air curtain holes inside the front skid plate to reduce swirl in the wheel house.

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | The outer lens, which is the outside of the exterior lamp, was aerodynamically refined. The headlamps are seamlessly connected to the surrounding surfaces to allow the air flow to pass smoothly. In addition, it also connects the rear lamps seamlessly and at the same time prevents air from flowing from the lamp surface to prevent vortexes from occurring on the sides.

The EV9’s wheel design uses a plastic star cover for aerodynamic performance

Q. Wheel design also has a great influence on aerodynamic performance. From this point of view, please explain the wheel design of the EV9.

Senior researcher Hyun-soo Kim | Since electric vehicles are heavy, wheel rigidity must be high. Also, designing the wheels of EVs is trickier than those of internal combustion engines; Aerodynamics are also important for longer range. An example of a wheel design that increases aerodynamic performance is reducing the opening ratio and making it flat like a saucer. However, this will harm the three-dimensional effect and unique character of the wheel, and the reduced opening ratio will reduce brake cooling and heat dissipation performance. To solve this, the EV9 utilized plastic wheel covers. Thanks to this, the aerodynamic performance was improved by reducing the opening ratio of the wheel, and the design of the car was perfected while reducing weight and improving ride comfort by using light plastic materials.

How the inspirational EV9 design was completed

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park said that the most memorable thing was to create the L-shaped pattern with a laser to complete the digital tiger face on the brightly colored body

Q. Was there any special moments when designing the EV9?

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | To develop the digital tiger face, laser etching technology was used to instantly burn and peel off the L-shaped pattern with a laser after painting the body paint. The problem was that bright exterior colors such as white and silver reflected the laser, hindering the process; we almost couldn’t manufacture the white cars that were in highest demand because of this, but collaboration with other teams saved us. We eventually solved the problem with a paint that reacts to a laser well, and some additional processing.

EV9’s exterior designers hoped that many would look forward to the future of Kia’s design after seeing the EV9 that stimulates digital sensibility

Q. Is there a message you want to deliver to consumers who will experience the design of the EV9, a large electric SUV that seats 6-7 and the flagship model of Kia’s electrification lineup?

Researcher Sang-hyeok Han | The EV9 contains years of exploration by numerous designers about Opposite United and the future of the era of the EVs that Kia will face. The EV9 will provide the experience of Kia’s vision. Please look forward to the future of Kia Design.

Senior researcher Byung-kyu Park | We designed an exterior lamp that suits the era of electrification in the automobile industry and the paradigm shift. And we wanted to provide a different consumer experience through this; And that is why we have developed a variety of dynamic welcome light patterns beyond the function of a lamp that simply illuminates the front. Every time you stand in front of the EV9, emotional patterns will greet you with digital movements.

*The photo of the EV9 used in the article was taken from a pre-production model, and may differ from the final mass-production model.

HMG Journal Operation Team


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