The 2024 Kia EV9 is sporting some of the coolest lighting displays we’ve seen in a production car. It’s not the headlights or the taillights that we’re talking about either (though those are also rather neat looking). No, it’s the lighting in the front grille that quite literally shines through the paint.
Take a look at the EV9’s front end without the lights on, and the wide, painted front grille area appears to be just paint and nothing more. Flick the lights on, and all of a sudden, dots of LED light are shining where you only saw paint before. What kind of sorcery is this? We asked Berk Erner, Senior Exterior Designer for Kia all about the lights.
“We wanted to do something very high tech, and when I proposed it in the earlier design phase, I thought maybe it’s unlikely it’s going to make it production,” Erner tells us. “But our amazing engineering team, they were like, you know what, I think we can do it. And yeah, we made it.”
How Kia makes the lights come to life is relatively simple in theory, but it’s also the first production car with this type of lighting — don’t expect it to be the last.
“So basically, it’s made out of these tiny perforations on the paint,” Erner says. You can barely see it. And to my knowledge, it’s the first production car with them.”
Walk up close to the EV9, squint, and you’ll see the perforations in the paint. Capturing the perforations in photos is difficult, but you can get an idea of what we’re talking about above. In the right lighting, the perforations reveal themselves, giving away that there’s something a little weird going on with this Kia’s paint. You’ll notice that the perforations are done in uniform groupings, which leads us to Kia’s next innovation.
Instead of just being a set and permanent lighting pattern, the lights are customizable with five different patterns.
“It’s also customizable,” Erner goes on. “There’s kind of like a matrix behind it, and you can program it in different places.”
In case you weren’t feeling a certain pattern on any particular day, you’ll be able to go into the system and change it up to better suit your lighting preferences. How cool is that? All of this is possible without using a specially developed paint for the project, too, as Erner says the paint that Kia uses on the front is the same as it uses on the rest of the car. This part of it just happens to be backed with LED lights all over.
If you want this fancy, new lighting on your EV9 one day, Kia says that it will be an option. Frankly, it looks like one that will be tough to pass up, as your Kia SUV will be rocking lights that not even luxury automakers are offering on their cars.