Three-row electric SUVs from brands such as Mercedes (the EQS SUV) and Tesla (the Model X) use blobby, almost minivan-like shapes to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and seemingly signal their battery-powered status. Kia’s EV9, on the other hand, wears the squared-off bodywork of a traditional SUV, yet manages to slip through the air with a drag coefficient as low as 0.28. Tom Kearns, chief designer at Kia Design Center America, defends the design of the EV9 and shares a little more about the upcoming electric SUV.
Car and Driver: Most EVs tend to wear overtly aerodynamic designs. Why is the EV9 so boxy?
Tom Kearns: Because it looks tough.
C/D: We’ve heard colleagues refer to the EV9 as an "electric Telluride." Is that fair?
KEARNS: If you put an EV9 next to a Telluride, I think you'd be surprised at how different they are: the form vocabulary, the detailing, the lighting, the graphics, the wheels.
C/D: Why make the EV9 look so different from the EV6?
KEARNS: The EV6 is a lot sleeker and rounder. It's sportier. It's got a very low hood. With proportions and surfacing, the EV9 is just a different type of vehicle, so we wanted a different type of design.
C/D: What happened to those triangle-shaped wheels from the EV9 concept?
KEARNS: Sometimes you do something like that on a concept and it's super controversial. Sometimes controversy is good. I don't think you should try to appease everyone. But that one was a little more like, "We love it. Don't change anything—except for the wheels."
Kearns, "a big Nine Inch Nails fan," didn't deny the similarities between Kia's new logo and the band's.
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