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New York show: Kia HabaNiro concept for all reasons

Kia HabaNiro concept EV attempts to blend multiple car styles into one pack

Kia logo18 Apr 2019

KIA’S California design studio has tried to create the car for all situations – urban commuting, spirited country driving and off-roading – in the all-electric, fully autonomous, all-wheel-drive HabaNiro concept revealed at the New York motor show.
 
It is the second electric car concept shown by the South Korean car-maker in a matter of weeks, following on from the Imagine by Kia concept at last month’s Geneva motor show.
 
Although larger and more luxurious than the HabaNiro, the Imagine by Kia concept similarly attempted to meld a number of car styles into one vehicle.
 
While many features of the small HabaNiro crossover hatchback are fanciful, including the butterfly wing doors and floating seats that appear to be mandatory on such concepts, company executives have hinted that a toned-down version of the HabaNiro (the name is a play on the habanero hot chilli and Kia’s e-Niro EV) might turn up in showrooms at some point.
 
Kia Design Centre America vice president Tom Kearns said: “We wanted this concept to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures.
 
“We imagined a car for everyone and nearly everything. Then, when we saw the finished product, we were blown away by the imagination of the HabaNiro’s creators and its laboratory of technology and we want it in our driveways. Today.”
 
Sitting on a short (4430mm) but wide (1955mm) platform, the four-door, four-seat ‘Everything Car’ is supposedly fitted with a Level 5 autonomous driving system, twin-motor electric powertrain driving all four wheels, advanced battery with more than 300 miles (482km) of range and high-end technologies such as artificial intelligence to sense the driver’s needs.
 
Kia’s trademark ‘tiger’s nose’ grille created by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer makes way for a “shark’s snout, complete with a slit-like gap full of gloss black aluminium ‘teeth’ similar to the cooling blades found on high-end electronic equipment”.
 
The front of the vehicle is clad in a metallic-look finish – a look that that is carried though to other items such as aluminium bash plates.
 
The chunky 20-inch wheels and slightly raised ride height are a nod to the vehicle’s off-road aspirations.
 
Inside, the designers have dispensed with conventional touchscreens, instead installing a full-width windscreen head-up display that occupants control from an similarly full-width acrylic touchpad.
 
This even allows the passengers to swipe various features to “move them around like chess pieces”.
 
Although the HabaNiro still has a steering wheel so the driver can take control in tricky situations, the wheel retracts when autonomous driving is engaged.
 
Instead of conventional dash-mounted climate control vents, the car is heated and cooled via a perimeter ventilation system around the cabin.
 
Kia’s Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (READ) system introduced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is included, analysing the driver’s emotional state in real-time through artificial intelligence-based bio-signal recognition technology.
 
The system then tailors the interior environment to the perceived driver’s needs for “a more pleasurable and safer driving experience”.
 
An eye-tracking system can follow the driver’s gaze to anticipate the driver’s needs. For example, when the driver looks up to the top of the windscreen where a traditional rear-view mirror is located, it can activate a 180-degree rear view display.

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