Now is the heyday of electric vehicles; EVs that are newly released every day are trending in the global automobile market. In such a competitive market, one car has captured the world’s attention simply by its presence - the Kia EV9, Korea’s first electric three-row SUV, representing Kia’s electric SUV lineup.
The bold and future-oriented design had a great influence on the EV9, but the numerous convenience features, various cutting-edge technologies, and new mobility experiences to be unfolded in the innovative interior space were also enough to raise the expectations of many customers. Those who led the development of the Kia EV9 - the members of PM, UX development team, and the mid-size package team - explain about the EV9’s design and features, and how the model offers a unique mobility experiences.
Q. What is the EV9’s role in Kia’s electrified model lineup?
We gave the most careful consideration to the model’s concept in the development of the EV9, as we aimed to make this vehicle as EV’s uniquely driver-centric yet capable of accommodating all members of the family. So, we set the concept of EV9 as ‘my own SUV for my own family’. This reflects the driver’s individual taste and personality, while providing a relaxed space and various values for the family as a family car.
Based on this concept, the EV9 has evolved into an all-rounder electric SUV. We focused on the large-capacity battery, flat floor, and absolute SUV performance, and emphasized the SUV’s unique strong style and the usability of the second and third row spaces, which are even worth comparing to those of MPVs.
Q. In the automobile market, electric cars are becoming larger. Is the EV9 also the result of considering these electric car trends?
Because of the high price in the early days of the electric car market, many automakers developed compact cars focused on their utility as commuters. Recently, however, EVs are getting bigger as electric vehicle technology advances and price barriers decrease; And the EV9 was also developed as Korea’s first three-row electric SUV. A large-capacity battery suitable for a large body, an overwhelming driving range, and a spacious interior space that comfortably accommodates all family members show the elements of a larger electric vehicle.
Q. Where is the Kia EV9 positioned in the global electric vehicle market?
The EV9 is the most innovative model pioneering new territory and a new flagship model representing Kia’s electrification lineup. The existing EV6 signaled a new beginning for the Kia brand, and the newly introduced EV9 is a milestone marking the great transformation of the Kia brand into electrification. In the future, the EV9 will provide innovative value unique to Kia’s electrified models that many customers can relate to.
Q. While developing the EV9, what did you emphasize while keeping its competitors in mind?
There are not many large three-row electric SUV models in the global automobile market. Moreover, EV9 is the first electric SUV in the world that even considers the space in the third row. Thus, Kia became a pioneer in a new segment, setting new standards and immersed itself in research and development. Compared to competitors, the EV9 provides various values based on a clear concept. Showcasing a boxy look unique to SUVs, it maximizes interior space and utility, and also emphasizes the individuality of the Kia electrification brand by generously using the iconic details and future-oriented design elements of electrified models.
Q. As Kia’s representative electric SUV, what is the strategic difference of the EV9?
First, the EV9, developed in line with the concept of ‘a new experience that completely changes the meaning and method of movement’, will show the elements that an electric SUV should feature and become a source of inspiration for future mobility. The progressive design, innovative space, and cutting-edge technology combined with the characteristics of an authentic SUV will set a new standard for the global electric vehicle market while providing an innovative mobility experience pursued by the Kia brand. If customers experience the EV9 firsthand, they will know that it is not just a means of transportation, but that it expands the boundaries of our lives and inspires us.
Q. Please tell us what you focused on to develop the Kia EV9 as a versatile family car.
Kia put a lot of effort into developing the EV9 to provide various values of EV not only to customers who are simply interested in electric vehicles, but also to customers who currently use internal combustion engine vehicles - such as EV9’s interior space design. The design features of the EV9 interior space not only expanded the space, but also considered various scenarios such as a space for relaxation, a space for conversation, a space for outdoor and activity, a space for watching movies or playing video games. In other words, the interior space is designed in consideration of various demands and usage methods of users. In addition, Kia established the direction of UX (user experience) development with the concept of ‘Room for Discovery’. As a result, the EV9 was completed as a vehicle ‘full of new discoveries for me and my family’ and ‘providing a mobility life space shared with the family’.
In fact, when you step into the EV9, you’ll find convenience features that take into account not only the driver but also all occupants - like a drawer-type extended console for passengers in the second row. Various belongings such as water, tissue, and tablet PC can be easily loaded in the drawer, and the adjustable table at the top allows you to enjoy simple food and beverages or watch videos on the tablet PC. In addition, we plan to provide customizing features such as a luggage pop-up table to increase the utilization of trunk space.
Q. What differentiates the Kia EV9 from existing 3-row SUVs with an internal combustion engine?
The biggest difference from an internal combustion engine vehicle is surprisingly not easily noticeable. Internal combustion engine vehicles inevitably have a higher indoor floor height in the second row due to the fuel tank, but the EV9, a dedicated electric vehicle, secured legroom and headroom at the same time by implementing a flat floor. In addition, various seats with long sliding & swiveling functions are provided through the secured space.
In addition, EV9 customers can fully enjoy the specialized specifications of Hyundai Motor Group’s electric vehicle models. For example, when camping or staying in a car, you can freely use various devices that require power by using V2L. In addition, it utilizes the existing engine room space to provide a large-capacity storage space of up to 90ℓ (based on 2WD), and the electronic hood latch that can open the hood with a smart key and Kia Connect application increases the utility of the front trunk, known as frunk. In addition, the frunk area was neatly finished with a cover to improve aesthetics.
Q. Please tell us about the special design of the EV9 to maximize the interior space based on E-GMP.
The biggest difference of the EV9 is the space in the third row. When developing the EV9, we aimed to create a third-row space where adult men could travel comfortably, and accordingly, the third-row floor had to be lowered as flat as possible. In the case of EV6, which is the same E-GMP vehicle, Integrated Charging Control Units (ICCU) are located at the bottom of the second row seat, whereas in EV9, the ICCU is located behind the third row to maximize the third row boarding space. Thanks to this, it is possible to travel long distances comfortably even in the third row.
Q. Among the various charms of the EV9, the swivel, relaxation, and massage functions applied to the second row seats stand out. Please explain why you developed a 2-row seat that supports such a variety of functions.
From the beginning of EV9 development, Kia has devoted its heart to developing seat configurations that support various scenario spaces. In particular, the second-row swivel seat that can rotate 180 degrees is an iconic dedicated specification of the EV9. In addition, the EV9 houses a 6:4 folding seat that can utilize various spaces, a premium relaxation seat that provides a pleasant and comfortable seating experience, and a dynamic touch massage function that beats and vibrates.
Building the first electric SUV to house a swivel seat has never been easier. Various problems occur in the process of rotating the seat - such as interference with the armrest. To solve this, a hinge that can rotate left and right was applied to the seat armrest to complete a safe and useful swivel seat. In fact, the swivel seat applied to the EV9 shines in outdoor activities such as camping. For example, you can enjoy tea time with the sunset by the sea while sitting on a seat facing the rear, and at night, you can experience your own cinema space created in a private indoor space using a beam projector.
Q. What was the most important consideration when designing the second and third row spaces?
When composing a space, securing space such as headroom or legroom is important, but the emotional aspect transmitted through the five senses is also important. The interior of the EV9 has been fine-tuned to ensure a sense of openness, such as mesh headrests for the first row seats and lowering the height of the door belt line. In addition, a lot of effort was made to create a more harmonious mobility space by anticipating various scenarios in the process of moving, setting the location of the control panel and storage space, and applying convenience functions. Independent controls for 2/3 row air conditioning, diffused roof vents, dual color ambient lights, and tailgate switches applied to the luggage side trim are parts that reflect careful design.
Q. Even if the same platform is used, the driving characteristics will be different depending on the concept of the vehicle. Please explain what driving characteristics were pursued during the development stage of the EV9.
The driving quality of the EV9 pursues a comfortable ride suitable for a flagship electric SUV and a reliable sense of stability at all times. Therefore, R&H (Ride & Handling) and NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) performance were tuned so that not only the driver but also all passengers could experience a pleasant and comfortable journey, and they did not feel nauseous when cornering. In addition, to reinforce the unique quietness of electric vehicles, sound-absorbing tires are applied as standard, double sound-insulating glass is applied to all glass, and a carpet with a sound-absorbing function is applied to the floor panel.
Q. Finally, as an EV9 developer, what is the EV9’s charm that you want to emphasize to customers?
Like the development concept of “my own SUV for my own family,” the Kia EV9 has the charm to satisfy both the driver and family members. It enables commuting at a reasonable cost, and also allows you to experience the dynamic driving performance unique to EVs that boast powerful output. And on weekends, the swivel seat offers a pleasant moving experience to all occupants, and in the outdoor environment, you can fully enjoy the freedom of movement without power constraints by using V2L. As such, the EV9 is expected to provide a differentiated travel experience that has never been experienced before. We hope that many customers will discover the charm of a new mobility space through the EV9.
Photography by Choi Dae-il and Kim Bum-seok
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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