Kia used the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show this week to unveil a concept for a Niro electric vehicle with an estimated 238-mile range as well as to show off new vehicle technology it says will further its vision for future mobility.
Related: More 2018 CES Coverage
The electric Niro concept includes a flashy display panel where the grille would be, and it's not just a light show. This is a visual component for the EV's interactive communications technology for city drivers that also includes an active pedestrian audio warning system. That system uses cameras with object recognition and front speakers to spot and alert people with sounds to let them know the otherwise silent EV is bearing down on them.
The grille lights not only show patterns but can spell out a message: The concept rolled out with "Hello, CES" displayed. (I can think of other messages I might display for the distracted fool on his phone who steps off the curb against the light.)
The Niro includes some show-car flourishes (such as the required tiny side mirrors and fancy LED light accents) but otherwise looks ready to add an EV to the Niro electrified wagon line that now includes a hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
The Niro EV Concept also gets some added aero details, and its power is from a new-design, 150-kilowatt motor and 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack. Kia says the combination should be good for a 238-mile driving range, which coincidentally(?) is also the EPA-rated range of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Inside, the Niro EV Concept is more futuristic, with a minimalist design and soothing, muted color scheme. It is aimed at showing off new technologies, including a new human-machine interface using different touches or gestures on the base of the steering-wheel "remote" to control the infotainment and climate systems. The user logs in using facial- or voice-recognition technology. A separate cockpit display at CES lets users try it out.
Kia also detailed its "ACE" strategy to make its future vehicles "automated, connected and eco/electric." It includes three core elements:
- Automated: Move to commercialize autonomy, with autonomous vehicle testing beginning in 2021
- Connected: Connected car technologies in every vehicle class by 2025 and in every Kia model by 2030
- Eco/Electric: Sixteen hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025, including a fuel-cell electric vehicle in 2020 (Corporate sibling Hyundai unveiled its new Nexo fuel-cell electric at CES this year.)
In addition to the cockpit display, Kia's CES exhibits include a virtual reality simulator demonstrating how autonomous cars could interact with other vehicles and the environment, and a display showing what the coming ultrafast 5G wireless technology could mean for vehicle connectivity.
Kia also announced that it will expand its Wible car-sharing service, launched in South Korea in 2017, to some European cities later this year. It charges customers based on the amount of time they use the car.
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