Two Automakers Are Actually Fulfilling the Potential of EV Design

Many electric cars are boring, but a new SUV shows they don't have to be

The new Kia EV9 electric SUV
An electric SUV with legitimately good curb appeal? Where do we sign?

There are plenty of barriers to electric vehicle adoption in the United States, including charging infrastructure, cost and public perceptions around EV ownership. One factor that doesn’t get talked about as much, but is arguably just as crucial, is the design. Most electric cars today are on the spectrum of unremarkable to ugly. 

It started with the rise of the Toyota Prius, a bastion of hybrid driving and butt of many jokes. Then Tesla’s vehicles became synonymous with electrification, and once they switched from Lotus chassis to their own unique designs, no Falcon Wing doors and high-tech doodads could save them from being labeled as aesthetically boring blobs. Even though dozens of electric models from a variety of automakers are now hitting the market, the problem remains: the potential offered by EV design, where a radically different powertrain allows for a radically different conception of what a vehicle can be, has been woefully underutilized.

There are two exceptions: Kia and its parent company Hyundai. These two adjacent brands have offered a compelling vision of an electrified future for years, but while anyone can make an EV concept that’ll go viral on social media, it’s much harder to translate that futuristic design language into vehicles that can be produced, and that normal buyers actually want to drive. We’ve seen first-hand the merits of the dynamic Hyundai Ioniq line as well as the lite version in the Kia EV6, and with the new Kia EV9, the brand’s first three-row electric SUV that was unveiled this week, they’re continuing their win streak. 

Review: The Hyundai Ioniq 5 Slices EV Charging Times, Peels Back Eyeballs
The best-looking Hyundai in the showroom just happens to be electric.

While our reviewer found the EV6 “a little less visually special than its Hyundai counterpart,” the sculptural EV9 shows that Kia has a lot more up its sleeve. The angular lighting veins across the front and back, as well as the geometric panels, immediately signal that this SUV packs a battery, but unlike something like the Hummer EV, it’s not overcompensating to try and woo those who would otherwise shun the new technology. 

The new EVs Kia and Hyundai have introduced all maintain this balance: offering models that are enticing to your average driver, while also pushing the boundaries of normal car design. Just take a look at these beauts. What normal person wouldn’t want to drive one of these? 

  • Kia EV9 SUV design
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5 design
  • Kia EV6 GT design
  • Hyundai Ioniq 6 design

It should be said that these are all middle of the road in terms of price. Will luxury EVs outperform Kia and Hyundai in the design department? Maybe. But so far, we’d say not

If you are similarly intrigued in what Kia is putting out, more details about the EV9 SUV will be available in late March when the company reveals the full rollout plans.

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