SsangYong e-XIV concept: Funky plug-in SUV to debut at Paris Motor Show

SsangYong e-XIV concept front three-quarter viewSsangYong, the Korean carmaker that brought us the XIV-2 convertible SUV concept from March’s Geneva Motor Show, is queuing up another crossover concept for this month’s Paris Motor Show. This time the car, called e-XIV, will be electric.

Specifically, the e-XIV (electric-eXciting User Interface Vehicle) will be an extended-range electric vehicle, otherwise known as a plug-in hybrid, like the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma.

SsangYong is waiting for the e-XIV’s Paris debut to reveal all the details, but it did say that this concept will have one important feature: a roof covered with solar panels to help recharge the batteries. Henrik Fisker is probably unhappy to see another company copying his idea, and applying it to an odd-looking crossover.

Few cars can stand up to Fisker’s Karma in a beauty contest, but the e-XIV is strange even compared to normal cars. The low roofline and thick C-pillar treatment has been done before, and the ventilation holes in the front end make the e-XIV look like ‘90s speaker. It really shows how much of a challenge electric cars will be to designers of SUVs, since EVs don’t require massive grilles.

To hide the e-XIV’s height, designers added some black rocker paneling, admittedly executed better than on most production cars. What appears to be an air intake below and on either side of the tailgate looks cool, but probably wouldn’t be functional in real life.SsangYong e-XIV concept rear three-quarter view

The e-XIV is 163.8 inches long, 70.5 inches wide, and 62 inches tall. That puts it in the sub-compact crossover class with vehicles like the Mini Countryman and Nissan Juke.

The e-XIV is the third XIV concept from SsangYong. The first XIV was a traditional crossover, while the XIV-2, as stated earlier, was a convertible.

A plug-in crossover seems like an intriguing idea, and SsangYong is not the only carmaker to think so. Mitsubishi will show a production-ready Outlander plug-in at the Paris Show, and Volvo has shown a plug-in version of its XC60 crossover as an auto show concept.

The Outlander may be larger and more practical, but the e-XIV could potentially appeal to the young hip buyers carmakers chase like unicorns, people who want a stylish ride like the Juke with some added environmentalism.

Considering the line of unpolished, aesthetically challenged SUVs SsangYong currently sells in Europe and Asia, that may be a bit of a stretch. We’ll find out when the e-XIV debuts in Paris at the end of the month.