Despite unveiling a menagerie of electric SUVs and crossovers at is inaugural EV Day, Kia also took the opportunity to drop the silk sheet on its concept EV4. It certainly bucked the trend for raised ride heights and chunky fenders with its sleek sedan profile.
Although to call it a typical sedan would be doing Karim Habib’s (Kia’s chief designer) work an injustice. Its low nose, elongated tail, roof spoiler and geometric flanks make it look like very little else on sale today.
Based on Kia's E-GMP platform, which is its dedicated EV architecture used on everything from the current EV6 to the enormous EV9 that arrives soon, we can expect the EV4 to measure up slightly longer than a Tesla Model 3.
But, unlike Musk’s all-conquering EVs, Kia has pared back its interior and committed to tech in places only where it is needed: "The idea was to create an environment that would de-stress the occupants and bring people closer together," Habib explained to T3 during a brief walk around of the concept car.
"The rear seats are designed like a bench, for a more informal seating arrangement, and we have created animated, pin-style air vents at the front that can change colour with the various interior moods."
This is in reference to the various "Mind Modes" that can be selected by the driver and see the ambient lighting transition from reds (Perform mode) when occupants need to focus, to more calming greens and blues when they want to relax (Serenity mode).
In another move to de-clutter the cabin, the air conditioning vents retract when not needed, and then automatically slide out of the dash and gently sway from side to side when called upon.
Despite the lack of an enormous, tablet-like screen, the Kia EV4 still packs the essential twin digital displays that show driving information and infotainment options, but it is a far cry from concepts of recent years that packed as much tech inside as humanly possible.
The "shy tech" approach, as Habib describes it, allows the viewer to focus on the eco-conscious fabric selection, which is a big part of Kia’s story as it moves into the future.
Some of the interior surfaces feature a 3D-knitting process that apparently eliminates any waste, while the cushions on the EV4 concept have been made from mycelium, which is a natural fungal thread harvested from the roots of mushrooms.
Kia has said it won't use leather in any future cars, so is looking for ways to portray a sense of luxury with fabrics: "Luxury is in tactility," Habib told us, and Mycelium can make for an impressively real stand-in for leather, while recycled plastics, hemp and even flax are being researched as alternatives to plastics and PU-infused materials.
The Korean brand is set to unleash a barrage of new electric vehicles in the next three to five years, as it races towards one million EV sales by 2026. It will also target a price scale of $35,000 to $50,000, covering the three new vehicles it revealed this week - EV3, EV4 and the EV5.
A switch to a 400V electrical system, which is half that of some of Kia’s existing EVs, means slower charging times for punters but a cheaper overall cost, so we could expect this EV4 to potentially undercut Tesla’s Model 3 when it goes on sale.