Every car maker is now in a race to market with appealing electric cars that will tempt fleet and private buyers alike to take the plunge. They look great, by and large. But the infrastructure as regards home charging points for the millions of Brits who don’t have a leafy driveway to park up a plugged-in car, is woefully lacking. Until that problem is solved, EVs will remain aa choice for the wealthier/company driver – maybe that’s the strategy?
Kia Motors has revealed its new Futuron Concept, an illuminating all-wheel drive SUV coupe which proposes new designs for future electric vehicles.
The Futuron Concept represents the modern and confident image of a progressive electric SUV coupe envisioned by Kia. The Futuron name itself is a portmanteau of ‘future’ and ‘on’, hinting at the switched-on, electric nature of future SUV designs from the brand.
The Futuron makes its public debut today at the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, where it will be on display to the public until 10 November.
An electric SUV coupe with a ‘360-degree core’
The novel proportions of the car are immediately striking. Its low-profile SUV coupe body makes a strong statement of intent for Kia’s future cars, which will be confident, sporty and modern, yet also elegant. At 4,850 mm in length, 1,550 mm tall and with a 3,000 mm-long wheelbase, the Futuron’s elevated ground clearance is matched with a low, lean body to create a dynamic, confident posture.
The Futuron’s fully-electric powertrain makes this shape possible. A high-capacity battery is mounted low in the vehicle’s body, beneath the cabin floor, providing electrical energy to four powerful in-wheel electric motors. The elevated stance of the car is therefore matched with a low centre of gravity and a cutting-edge e-AWD system which delivers lightning-fast responses to driver inputs.
A sports car on an SUV platform, Futuron offers users a new type of interactive driving experience suitable for urban city environments. Various elements of the vehicle’s structure and design foster the important connection and interaction between car and driver.
The concept’s roof is a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse which sits atop the 360-degree core, in the best traditions of UFO and flying saucer design. While flooding the cabin with natural light, it also extends down the bonnet to give drivers an unparalleled view ahead. The glasshouse also incorporates a network of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors capable of providing Level 4 autonomous driving features, enabling hands-off and eyes-off driving in most conditions.
The new ‘tiger face’ of Kia
The front of the Futuron features a new reinterpretation of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille, a signature for Kia design now for over a decade. While maintaining the basic principle of the design – a clear outline with tabs in the middle – Kia’s designers have expanded the boundaries, widening the shape across the front of the car to create a restrained, yet elegant ‘tiger face’.
With a wider ‘tiger face’ shape, the grille incorporates the Futuron’s headlamps, an innovative ‘Star Cloud’ design which gives the car a dazzling new night-time identity. The concept’s Star Cloud lighting not only highlights a new design form for the front of the car, but also embodies a new lighting concept for Kia, taking inspiration from nebulae in the night sky to create a geometric patchwork of matrix LED lighting. The Star Cloud is also incorporated into the rear of the car, displaying a distinct light signature to anyone following the Futuron.
Flexible and autonomous cabin space
The layout of the electric powertrain and incorporation of Level 4 autonomous driving systems has enabled the creation of a spacious and flexible cabin unlike any other vehicle on roads. The two front seats are created out of flexible materials and can offer an upright ‘driving’ position, or a reclined ‘rest’ position, similar to the flexibility afforded to first-class airline passengers. With the activation of the Futuron’s autonomous driving features, the two front seats recline as the steering wheel retracts. The ‘zero-gravity’ seating position this creates helps to reduce fatigue on long journeys.
One of the most prominent features of the cabin is the ‘cockpit’ area surrounding the driver. The graphical user interface (GUI) of the cockpit flows out of the driver-side door and wraps around the steering wheel in a seamless arc.
This merges the instrument cluster directly with the audio-visual display at the centre of the dashboard and is linked to the display integrated within the surface of the steering wheel itself. The GUI is operated by artificial intelligence technologies, displaying useful information about the car various autonomous driving, powertrain and navigation features to create a unique user experience. The apex of the cockpit arc sees the GUI lunge forward towards the road, creating an interactive Star Cloud light display at the very front of the cabin.