Debut of Kia’s Electric Swiss Army Knife
Concept cars are cool. Many offer hints of future production models. Many are fantastical designer visions that are meant to be just that–a fantasy. At this week’s New York Auto Show, Kia revealed the HabaNiro concept that we hope is more of an indication of a production car than a whimsical flight of fancy.
The HabaNiro (hot and spicy) concept is a combination of a compact crossover and hatchback that Kia calls the Everything Car. Many concept vehicles are so futuristic that being produced as designed would be impossible. Not so with the HabaNiro.
Created and designed in Kia’s California design studio that is headed by Tom Kearns, the HabaNiro was “imagined (as) a car for everyone and nearly everything.” With 20-inch wheels, short overhangs and four, large butterfly wing doors, the interior is roomy and useful. The exterior has protective cladding that encompass the front wheels and continues along the lower doors. Just perfect for off-roading. The interior is modern, clean and airy, with an absence of screens and knobs.
The HabaNiro is a fully-electric, all-wheel drive four-seat ECEV (Everything Car Electric Vehicle) that can travel 300+ miles on a charge. It has Level 5 autonomy, which means the HabaNiro would be the ultimate in self-driving cars. It would be able to offer complete hands-off operation or operate without a driver under all road and weather conditions. It also means a steering wheel would not be necessary. But for the HabaNiro concept, there is a very cool steering wheel that a driver can use, which retracts into the dash when the car is driving in autonomous mode.
Instead of a conventional instrument panel, the HabaNiro has a head-up display (HUD) that spans the complete windshield. The HUD has Sensory Light Feedback that allows the front seat occupants to merely swipe their hands across the HUD to change screens and images. Another technology on the HabaNiro is Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (READ) that analyzes the driver’s emotional state—stay with me here—in real-time through artificial intelligence-based bio-signal recognition technology. Also part of READ is the eye-tracking system, where a 180-degree rearview video display is activated when the AI senses the driver is looking at the area where a conventional rearview mirror would be located.
The goal of using AI, according to Kia, is to tailor the interior environment to human senses and create a more pleasurable and safer driving experience. Kia goes on to say that “AI and automation shouldn’t take the joy out of driving, as some auto lovers fear, but should enhance it–anticipating needs so we can concentrate on the driving experience.”
So what are the chances the HabaNiro will be built? Kia says to look at its recent history of showing concepts that did come into production, such as the Stinger and Telluride. Kia advises not betting against the HabaNiro, in some form, being in your local dealership at some point.
So here is what Clean Fleet Report says to Kia…Bring It On!
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