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CES: Kia outlines autonomous and EV future

Strap in: Visitors to Kia’s CES booth can experience Kia’s futuristic human-machine interface technologies.

Kia pledges 16 electrified vehicles by 2025, full range connected by 2030


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9 Jan 2018

KIA has announced that it will offer 16 electrified models by 2025 including an all-new fuel-cell EV in 2020, as well as confirming that it will commence level four autonomous vehicle testing in 2021, and will have connected car technology across its range by 2030.

The South Korean car-maker made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where it also revealed a full-EV version of its Niro compact SUV, featuring a 64kWh battery pack and 150kW electric motor, capable of 383 km of driving range.

Kia has redesigned the front fascia of the Niro EV from the original hybrid version that is not sold in Australia, and it sports new, sleeker headlights, a redesigned bumper and a grille that has been replaced with an interactive display panel.

It also includes a new active pedestrian warning system that uses cameras, object recognition technology and external speakers to mitigate the change of a collision.

If the system detects a pedestrian or cyclist crossing in front of the car, the speakers sound an alert, warning them of the car’s presence.

While not yet slated for production, the Niro EV could be one of the 16 electrified vehicles set to proliferate the Kia range by 2025.

The vehicles will consist of five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), five new all-electric vehicles, and one mass-market fuel-cell EV which is due to launch in 2020.

It is not clear how many of those 16 models will filter down into Kia Motors Australia’s line-up. The car-maker does not currently offer any electrified models.

Kia is planning to commercialise level four autonomous driving technology with testing beginning in 2021.

As part of the autonomous development, Kia is creating connected cars that can send vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure information, the company is aiming to adopt connected car technologies across all segments by 2025, with every Kia model to be connected by 2030.

Kia R&D Centre head and vice chairman Woong-chul Yang highlighted the importance of connected technology.

“Kia’s connected cars will be both boundless and connected and offer a new kind of mobility experience,” he said.

“Virtual reality, self-driving cars, and ‘vehicle-to-everything’ connectivity were all once considered technologies of the distant future.

“As they rapidly become a reality, Kia is exploring how to deploy these new technologies for its customers.”

Kia has also announced that its WiBLE car-sharing service that launched in South Korea last year will be introduced in select European markets from late 2018, and into other regions in coming years.

The exact locations will be announced later in the year.

Kia will showcase its latest human-machine interface technologies at CES, which can be adapted for use in future vehicles, such as the world’s first in-car 5G connection.

The Niro EV’s steering wheel can control functions such as music and volume and air-conditioning through gesture control and swiping along the wheel.

Other technologies on display are facial recognition that allows you to ‘log in’ to your car, and the separate sound control system that lets front and rear passengers listen to their own music at the same time, using speakers embedded in the headrests, and noise-cancelling technology.

Punters can also experience Kia’s autonomous drive support technologies through a series of virtual reality exhibits, using a range of environments displayed via virtual reality headsets.

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