Kia unveils all-new, all-electric EV6

This is the first Kia model based on a platform dedicated to electric vehicles.

Stephanie Wallcraft By: Stephanie Wallcraft March 15, 2021

Kia has taken the wraps off the EV6, the first Kia to be based on a platform dedicated to electric vehicles. Alongside that reveal, the brand is spelling out the new design philosophy it calls ‘opposites united,’ which will inform the styling of all future Kia products.

While technical details for the EV6 remain scarce – expect them to be similar to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, with which the EV6 shares much of its underpinnings – Kia’s head of design Karim Habib said the latter’s design language introduces intentional layers of visual complexity.

“We notice that moving and traveling is essential to not only economy and society, but also human evolution and learning and growing, a cross-fertilization from different cultures and different parts of the world,” Habib said during a media roundtable session. Habib is Lebanese-Canadian, having been born in Beirut and raised in Montreal. “That idea, it implies something more complex. We wanted the different layers of that complexity to be there visually. That was our way of creating an image for the team to work toward, by creating this idea of opposites united.”

This concept is conveyed in a literal sense in the EV6’s exterior design, particularly through the distinctive taillamp. The red band of the taillamp treatment crosses the entire width of the rear hatch and drops sharply at either end to terminate at the wheel, falling at a dramatically opposed angle.

“The surface of the body is very muscular and automotive,” Habib said, “and then you have this cut, this taillamp that is really additive, which I think is going to be something very iconic.”

In the interior, the concept sees a more figurative application. As society is increasingly inundated with technology delivered through glass screens and gloss black finishes, Habib said offsetting those surfaces with more natural textured materials not only inserts some tactile warmth but also addresses growing concerns around environmental sustainability.

“Leather is being questioned in many aspects as well as the type of plastics we use,” Habib said. “There’s an acceptance for things that were there in the past that are coming back, like fabrics and wools. We have to start thinking more about how to use materials in interiors and expand our palette with the aspect of environmental responsibility, but as well just what is socially required.”

Kia EV6

Habib added that as technology and environmental stressors increase, there will be an increased push alongside it toward helping people remain connected to the natural environment.

“We’re lucky enough in Canada to have a lot of nature around us,” he continued. “In Korea, there’s a huge trend towards camping. A lot of people now camp more, so much so that we really think about that in our cars. For example, in the Carnival [minivan], we’re thinking of how to integrate camping ideas, sleeping in your car, and having a tent connected. … Growing up in Canada you understand that, but it’s nice to see that that’s, I really think, part of our future world.”

The EV6 is the result of a collaboration between Kia’s design studios worldwide, which are located in Southern California, Frankfurt, Shanghai, and the city of Hwaseong in South Korea. Habib explained that drivers in each of these regions currently hold different perceptions of the Kia brand. In Canada and the United States, Kia is best known for larger SUVs such as the Sorento and the Telluride, the latter being exclusive to the North American market. Buyers in Europe lean toward sportier cars such as the Ceed, Habib said, which is also a market exclusive. In Korea, Habib said perception of the brand centres around elegant sedans such as the upcoming K8.

Kia EV6

This new design language is centred around opposites uniting gives Kia a platform for unifying its design language globally but still allowing for some flexibility in interpretation to meet the needs of these various global markets, Habib said.

“This philosophy is not meant to be one thing,” he added. “It’s not meant to be one style that is to be executed in the same way for different products. … That’s one of the biggest roles of this design philosophy is that we’re able to have consistency so that we build the meaning of the brand consistently throughout the world, with maybe slight variations but based on a core that is really what the brand stands for.”