Automakers Are Electrifying the Family-Friendly SUV

It isn’t just small niche automakers that have released new electric vehicles at the 2021 LA Auto Show.

Hyundai Seven concept
Hyundai Seven concept.


Auto shows typically have an assortment of vehicles: sports cars, trucks, and SUVs. This year, the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show is displaying a notable shift towards electric vehicles (EVs). And it isn’t just small niche automakers: Major automakers like Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota all used this year’s show to spotlight their electrification plans. The focus is also on family-oriented SUVs, which is one of the most popular segments.

Starting with Hyundai, the automaker already announced plans for its Ioniq sub-brand of electric vehicles, which includes the new Ioniq 5 crossover. Hyundai also announced an electric sedan is coming, called the Ioniq 6, and a larger SUV called the Ioniq 7. At this year’s show, Hyundai is giving a preview of the design direction of the Ioniq 7 with the debut of the Seven concept. The big concept is much larger than the Ioniq 5, which will help appeal more to families.

“The Seven concept demonstrates Hyundai’s creative vision and advanced technological development for our electrified mobility future,” said José Muñoz, President and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America. 

The Hyundai Seven concept is based on the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5, but it’s been stretched to give it more room. Inside, the interior focuses on the use of sustainable materials, like bamboo, plus there are also UVC lights to sterilize the interior. Beyond the materials, the Seven concept’s interior looks and feels like a living room with its full-width rear seat that looks like a couch and its two individual chairs that swivel. Hyundai says the Seven concept has a driving range of over 300 miles and that its battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in only 20 minutes.

A Hyundai Seven concept with doors open
Hyundai Seven concept.


Kia announced earlier this year that it will have 11 electric vehicles in its lineup by 2026. The first of these new EVs is the EV6 crossover, but at the LA Auto Show, Kia unveiled the Concept EV9. The EV9 is a large electric SUV that’s based on the same platform as the EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, which means that it’s also mechanically linked to the Hyundai Seven concept as well.

The big square Concept EV9 previews a large three-row electric SUV. This is significant since up until now most of the fully electric SUVs on the market have only offered two rows of seats. Kia hasn’t released that many details about its powertrain, but it estimates that it will have a 300-mile driving range. Kia also hasn’t announced when it will release a production version of the EV9, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if it arrives in a year or two.

“The Kia Concept EV9 is yet another important marker for us in what has been an incredible journey since the start of the year. Having made our intentions clear – to become a global leader in sustainable mobility solutions – today we are proud to show the world our all-electric SUV concept, which fuses together an advanced zero-emissions powertrain, a cutting-edge exterior design and a contemporary and innovative tech-based interior space,” said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design Center.

Nissan essentially brought electric vehicles to the masses when it released the Leaf over a decade ago. Now it’s hoping to make a big splash in the electric crossover segment with the arrival of the 2023 Ariya. The Ariya is a five-passenger EV with an estimated driving range of 300 miles. Nissan has also announced that the pricing for the Ariya starts at $47,125, including the destination charge. Nissan is taking reservations now for the 2023 Ariya and the first deliveries will begin next fall.

Nissan Ariya
Nissan Ariya.


Toyota has been a major player in the hybrid segment for over 20 years since it released one of the first hybrids, the Prius in the late 1990s. Since then Toyota has mainly focused on hybrid vehicles, but it has offered two electric versions of the RAV4, in limited numbers. Now Toyota is ready to jump in with the arrival of the 2023 Toyota bZ4X electric crossover. It’s about the same size as the Toyota RAV4 and Toyota partnered with Subaru to develop it. Subaru is also introducing its own version, called the Solterra.

The bZ4X is likely to become one of the most popular affordable electric SUVs, as long as Toyota can keep up with the demand. It comes in two versions, with either a single electric motor that drives the front wheels or a dual-motor version that gives it all-wheel drive. Toyota estimates that the front-wheel-drive bZ4X will have a 250-mile range, while the all-wheel-drive version will have a slightly shorter driving range. Subaru also announced that the Solterra, which is only available with all-wheel drive, will have a 220-mile range. Both the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra will arrive in mid-2022.

“As a human-centered company, Toyota remains committed to offering customers a diverse portfolio of products to meet their individual needs and move us toward a carbon neutral future,” said Mike Tripp, vice president, Toyota Marketing.

A 2023 Toyota bZ4X in a parking lot
Toyota bZ4X.

Marc Carter

While there were several electric debuts from mainstream automakers, there was also a big debut from a smaller automaker, Fisker. The revived brand revealed the 2023 Ocean SUV at the show. The Fisker Ocean stands out with its solar panels and use of sustainable materials. The solar panels can generate enough electricity for 1,500 miles of range per year. Inside the Ocean’s interior is made of recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets, and used fabric and rubber. Even its large 22-inch wheels are made from recycled carbon fiber and aluminum.

Fisker says the Ocean will have a driving range up to 350 miles. The base version starts at $37,499 before destination and has a 250-mile range. The more expensive Ultra and Extreme trim levels have a range of 340 and 350 miles, respectively. Fisker has already received over 19,000 reservations for the Ocean and the first deliveries will begin in November 2022.

“Our mission is to create the world’s most innovative and sustainable vehicles that are also affordable, and it all starts with the Fisker Ocean as we fully embrace a clean future for all,” stated Chairman and CEO Henrik Fisker.

The crossover/ SUV segment accounts for a significant portion of new vehicle sales since most buyers now prefer them rather than a sedan or hatchback. Because of this, it’s smart that automakers are prioritizing electric SUVs over any other type of vehicle. This will help the new EVs appeal even more to buyers.