Spicy Hot: Kia HabaNiro
- Fully electric concept has a range of more than 300 miles
- All-wheel drive, go-anywhere character
- Butterfly-wing doors
- Level 5 autonomy
- Kia calls it an ECEV, an all-electric “Everything Car”
- Head-up display is full width of windshield
Kia calls its HabaNiro concept car a “prescient look into the future of mobility where automobiles will seamlessly integrate design, capability, capability, usefulness and creativity.”
Translation: The Kia HabaNiro is a thoroughly modern multipurpose vehicle, a rugged all-wheel-drive electric 4-seater that bristles with modern technology and has an impressive range of more than 300 miles. This show car, loaded with personality, was imagined and created at Kia’s design studio in California.
Tom Kearns, the VP of Design there, explains: “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.”
A new category of vehicle: the ECEV
While we are tempted to categorize the HabaNiro as a compact crossover utility vehicle, Kia says we shouldn’t. Rather, Kia sees the HabaNiro as an all-electric Everything Car, or an ECEV. As such, it can be a commuter, a crossover, an SUV, an adventure vehicle or even a state-of-the-art modern workroom.
To aid versatility, Kia fits the HabaNiro with protective metallic gray cladding around the front wheels and extending back along the sides of the car. In back, a panel anodized in Lava Red defines the C-pillars and extends up over the roof, creating a forward-leaning posture that suggests the HabaNiro is ready to zoom off at any given moment. Short overhangs, together with big haunches and 20-inch wheels, add to a rugged look that’s further enhanced by aluminum skidplates and tow hooks.
Open the butterfly-wing doors and the HabaNiro’s Lava Red interior is revealed. It’s airy inside, with seats that appear to float within the 4-seat cabin. Overall, the appearance is clean and uncluttered. There are no rectangular screens. Nor are there any traditional control knobs or buttons.
Instead, the HabaNiro has a head-up display (HUD) that’s the full width of the windshield. It’s controlled by a concave acrylic instrument panel that’s a large interactive touch pad with Sensory Light Feedback. Via a system called Technical Option Sharing System (TOSS), users can swipe and move vehicle options across the HabaNiro’s huge HUD screen.
Other notable interior technologies include a Perimeter Ventilation System, which quietly and evenly blows a curtain of air throughout the cabin, and a soft ambient light that glows up through the HabaNiro’s geometrically patterned floor to create a sense of movement on surfaces within the cabin.
Artificial Intelligence? Yep
The Kia HabaNiro show car also boasts Kia’s new Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.), which analyzes a driver’s emotional state in real time and then tailors vehicle settings specifically for that person. This system, introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show, personalizes the interior environment to create a more pleasurable and safer driver experience.
And get this: R.E.A.D also has an eye-tracking system that uses Artificial Intelligence to monitor where the driver is looking. If he or she is looking toward the top of the windshield, where a rearview mirror typically would be, AI senses the driver’s need to see what’s behind the vehicle and instantly activates a 180-degree rear-view video display.
Also notable: When the HabaNiro’s part-time level 5 autonomous driving systems are engaged, this Kia concept’s steering wheel and instrument panel rock forward and out of the way to provide more room for the front passengers, who might choose to watch a movie on the full-width HUD video screen. Remember, this is concept.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our design center,” adds Michael Cole, Kia Motors America COO and executive vice president. “The HabaNiro is a genius work of skill and imagination. Not only does its beautiful design incorporate the needs of future mobility, but its engineering and technology anticipate the way people will want to move in the near future.”
Basic facts: Kia HabaNiro
Length: 171 inches
Height: 63 inches
Width: 77 inches
Wheelbase: 111.5 inches
Tire size: 265/50R20
Powertrain: Two electric motors
Range: More than 300 miles
Need something a little less spicy? Consider a regular-flavor Kia Niro EV.