The Hyundai Seven concept does not have a steering wheel, but rather a steering lever, which folds down for autonomous driving. Its rear seats are arranged like a sectional sofa, folded in an L shape around the rear corner of the SUV.
The Kia EV9 is less imaginative. It has a rectangular steering wheel (concept vehicles rarely have round steering wheels) and seats that are arranged in rows like those in a real SUV.
Hyundai and Kia are closely related companies and often share engineering in their vehicles. Hyundai’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, owns a large part of Kia, and both have had great successes with large gasoline engines. Crossover SUV. Even before the global computer chip caused production delays for virtually every automaker, Kia was having trouble keeping its popular Telluride SUV in stock because demand was so high. Hyundai’s Palisade three-row crossover, which shares much of its engineering with the Telluride, has also sold well.
And both want to continue that success even in the transition to electric vehicles. These are clearly concept vehicles rather than production models, but automakers say they offer clues to actual products of the future. The concepts are packed with features that are unlikely to make it a production SUV, however. Both have doors that open outward from the center, like barn doors, with no center pillar.
“There is no denying that South Korean brands have recently experienced somewhat greater than expected success in the large SUV segment,” said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst at automotive website Edmunds.com. “Although both concept vehicles appear to be quite far from actual production, they are positive indicators that Hyundai and Kia are considering increasing their customer base and expanding their large SUV product line to include electrified versions in the future.”
Both Hyundai and Kia described these concepts as if they shared the same underlying engineering, called the “E-GMP” or Electric Global Modular Platform. A highly flexible basic electric vehicle engineering platform, it can be used to create a variety of models of very different types and sizes.
The Hyundai Seven concept is designed to offer a “premium saloon” experience, according to Hyundai. Lamps built into the interior of the doors give off a warm glow when the doors are opened. There is a small refrigerator and a shoe care compartment for cleaning and refreshing the occupants’ footwear. On the roof, there is a huge video screen that occupants can lean back and watch.
There is also a great concern about hygiene. Airflow can be separated for front and rear occupants to avoid cross contamination. The built-in UV lights can disinfect the passenger compartment, and there are also disinfectant compartments to kill germs on personal belongings.
The Kia Concept 9 has features that seem more normal. Kia boasts of its fast charging capabilities, indicating that it will be able to go from a 10% to 80% charge in less than 30 minutes. When parked, the seats can look towards each other to facilitate conversation. Instead of a screen, the roof has a large panoramic moonroof, a feature offered on many SUVs today.
Both Hyundai and Kia hope to start selling a new small electric car based on the same E-GMP platform early next year. None of the automakers said when, exactly, they might start offering large electric SUVs.