kia designs UFO-like ‘futuron’ concept with panoramic glasshouse roof

by Hans Henzen

kia has revealed its new futuron concept, an all-wheel drive SUV coupe which proposes new designs for future electric vehicles. making its public debut at the china international import expo in shanghai, the concept is built around a single, strong ‘360-degree’ core, wrapped in bold yet modern exterior surfaces, and with a flexible, high-tech interior.

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. 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.

kia has used various elements of the vehicle’s structure and design to foster an important connection and interaction between car and driver. for example, the front fender flows backwards from the front of the hood before plunging into the cabin itself, establishing a connection between the driving seat and the road ahead.

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 front of the futuron reinterprets kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille while maintaining the basic principle of the design. kia’s designers have expanded the boundaries, widening the shape across the front of the car to create a restrained, yet elegant ‘tiger face’ that meets the headlights.

the futuron also incorporates chinese legend in the design and form of its new star cloud lighting. the dragon skin surface which covers the lighting area emulates the scaled armor that adorns chinese dragons, both in mythology and modern-day cultural celebrations. the star cloud lighting incorporates a kinetic surface, enabling the car to alternate between daytime running lights and full-beam headlamps as the scales open and close.

inside, a spacious flexible cabin includes two flexible front seats that offer both an upright driving position, or a reclined ‘rest’ position. the ‘zero-gravity’ seating position this creates helps to reduce fatigue on long journeys.

the doors feature the same star cloud lighting and scaled dragon skin motif found on the outside of the car, creating a glittering interactive ambient lighting system. the ventilation system is also housed behind dragon skin scales, which open and close to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the cabin.

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