Kia’s first large electric SUV, the EV9, has ample interior space that makes you want to go anywhere with your family. And the car seats also double this excitement. A car’s seats have a huge impact on the completeness of the car’s interior space; The element is directly related to the comfort of the occupants, and its size also determines the size of the interior space.
In the era of EVs, seats are a key element that improves space utilization and convenience. As people spend more time in their cars, many automakers face a dilemma - they need to reduce the size of the seats to increase usable space and make them more comfortable at the same time. In addition, energy consumption must also be reduced to improve efficiency. The EV9’s seats made by Hyundai Transys could be the answer to this problem. Jin-sik Kim, a senior researcher from Hyundai Transys’ Seat Design Team 3, and Hyun-suk Song, a senior researcher from the Seat Function Design Team, talked everything about the seats of EV9 .
The EV9’s seats feature the world’s first dynamic body care technology and low-power carbon heating technology. Additionally, tilting walk-in technology was introduced for the first time in Korea. In addition, the automaker is suggesting various ways to utilize interior space with new types of seats that are not easily seen, such as second-row swivel seats and second-row relaxation seats. The researchers explained why they poured out so many different technologies and concepts at once:
“EV9 is Korea’s first large electric SUV. Therefore, when designing the seat, we focused on low power and lightweight to increase energy efficiency. And the seats were designed in line with the concept of an interior package suitable for a family vehicle; From the customer’s perspective, the seats account for a significant portion of the interior design. Additionally, since customer needs will be as diverse as the EV9’s versatility, we focused on diversifying specifications and implementing multi-functions,” explained senior researcher Jin-sik Kim.
Senior researcher Hyun-suk Song of the seat function design team added; “EV9 is a large electric SUV and Kia’s flagship model, so we applied various new technologies to make it marketable. The seats also introduced several safety/convenience features. EVs’ seats also require a lot of energy efficiency improvement technology. “The EV9’s seats seem to have more newly applied technologies because they use related technologies.”
EV9’s second-row relaxation seats are housed with ‘Dynamic Body Care’ technology. Just like existing massage seats, its massage function relieves occupant fatigue, but the dynamic body care combines beat type and vibration type. This provides direct stimulation to the passenger’s body, increasing the effectiveness of the massage. The dedicated display also allows you to adjust the massage mode, tapping and vibration intensity.
When traveling long distances, passengers most commonly feel lower back pain. So Hyundai Transys added a small electric motor and striking parts to the back panel to help it pound the passengers’ backs. Electric motors were also installed on the front of the seat and the top of the backrest to create a massage effect through vibration. The final and most important step is to finesse the cushion so that the occupants do not feel the equipment inside the seat. Senior researcher Hyun-suk Song explained the introduction of dynamic body care technology as follows:
“Existing massage seats were developed with the purpose of using air pockets to stretch the passengers’ bodies and distribute body pressure. On the other hand, Dynamic Body Care focused on improving the massage effect. Like the tapping function of a massage chair, it provides a more tangible massage to the occupants. Additionally, the vibration massage function stimulates various body parts to relieve fatigue.”
The second-row seats of existing SUVs tilt their backrests forward and move back and forth when entering the third row. This method makes it easier for passengers to enter and exit the third row, but cannot be fully used when there is a child car seat in the second row. On the other hand, the ‘tilting walk-in technology’ in the EV9’s second-row seats separates the bottom rail and the seat, so it tilts forward while maintaining the backrest angle. This makes entry and exit easier for passengers, even with a child car seat. (7-seater standard: this technology applies to the seats behind the front passenger seat).
And there is one more for safety; Typical electric car seats do not work without power. However, the EV9’s second-row seat has an emergency escape strap, in case of emergency. Normally, this is powered by electricity, but in an emergency situation, it has both an electric and mechanical structure so that the seat can be pushed forward by pulling a strap. This is the result of careful consideration of customer safety.
‘Low-power carbon heating’ technology was applied to the EV9’s seats for the first time in the world. The carbon fiber used in the heating element is more than twice as durable as existing metal. In particular, the low-power carbon heating element consumes more than 15% less power than the existing method. This is because carbon materials require less heat to raise their temperature. However, due to the unique characteristics of carbon, it was more difficult to utilize it than the heating element of existing vehicles. This time, technological development allowed us to apply this element to the EV9’s seats. This has a direct impact on improving energy efficiency, which is most important in EVs. Senior researcher Hyun-suk Song explains low-power carbon heating technology:
“Low-power carbon heating elements are effective for EVs because they can increase temperature with less energy. And it also boasts excellent durability; In durability tests, it showed more than twice the performance compared to existing heating wires. The unique properties of this material provide excellent durability. “The application of new technologies like these will also help create safer and more durable car seats.”
The EV9’s second-row seat becomes completely flat when folded forward. Although this is for practicality, it is impossible to use existing ventilation structures because it requires stretching the duct between the hip cushion and the back panel beyond its limits. Therefore, for seats with a folding function, an additional blower is installed on the back to provide enough ventilation.
However, this increases the seat weight. Passengers can also feel the fan installed behind the foam backrest. This is why a delicate finish is necessary. To overcome these shortcomings, Hyundai Transys took a new approach - applying a docking method to the ventilation structure. Senior researcher Jin-sik Kim explains:
“The ventilation docking system applied to the EV9’s seat is characterized by providing ventilation to the cushion and back at the same time with a blower in the cushion area. Considering that the ventilation function is not needed when the seat is folded, we set the duct path to operate only when the customer is sitting on the seat, and the dock was designed with ventilation performance and durability in mind. This allowed us to reduce the weight of the seat while maintaining ventilation performance.”
Hyundai Transys has been researching various seats needed for various car brands and models within the Hyundai Motor Group, including Hyundai Motor Company, Kia, and Genesis. And through this, they were able to acquire various capabilities such as design, prior research, design, development, and verification. Among them, the seats of the Kia EV9 are a masterpiece that harmoniously implements the know-how and new technology that Hyundai Transys has learned.
Cars are evolving into mobile living spaces, and the importance of seats will increase. And Hyundai Transys is researching advanced seat technologies for the future mobility era, such as autonomous driving and PBV; The automaker is researching seat movement and placement technology that will increase the utilization of cabin space, as well as seat integrated control technology. In the age of automobiles evolving around software, advanced software for seats is also necessary. Many are looking forward to the cozier, more comfortable seats that Hyundai Transys will introduce in the future.
Photography by Hyuk-soo Cho
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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