Right on the heels of introducing the plug-in hybrid Niro, Kia is previewing an all-electric version of the small wagon. The Kia Niro EV concept has debuted at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where the automaker also revealed plans to roll out connected cars, more EVs, and a fuel cell vehicle.
Since it doesn’t have an engine to cool, the all-electric Niro has an interactive display panel instead of the grille you see on other Niros. To counteract its quietness, speakers sound an alert to passengers who are crossing in front of the car, while lights provide an additional warning.
The cabin features a wrap-around design and mixes silver, grey, and bronze colors. The model was born in Kia’s design studio in Korea.
Kia debuted different cockpits demonstrating technology for the Niro EV concept. The first shows off a gesture control system allowing users to make different gestures to adjust volume, ventilation, and music settings.
Another cockpit showcases a feature that allows rear passengers to listen to different music from front passengers, made possible by noise-cancellation technology creating two separate zones in the car.
These exhibits also have what Kia calls the world’s first in-vehicle 5G connection and facial recognition tech that will disable many features of a car if it doesn’t recognize a driver. Power comes from a 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack and a 150-kW electric motor.
Kia says the concept achieves a driving range of 238 miles–matching the Chevrolet Bolt’s EPA-rated range exactly. The Niro EV concept is a nice follow-up to the Soul EV, which is rated at 111 miles of range.
By 2025, Kia wants to introduce 16 electrified vehicles, including hybrids, plug-ins, and all-electric vehicles. This goal includes a new fuel cell vehicle that Kia plans to launch in 2020.
Following in the footsteps of other automakers, Kia is getting serious about highly automated vehicles early next decade. It will commercialize Level 4 autonomous vehicles in smart cities starting from 2021 as part of a pilot project.
Connected cars are also part of Kia’s long-term plans. The automaker will introduce connected car technologies across every vehicle segment by 2025, and on all models by 2030.
Also at CES, Kia announced it would offer UVO Agent for the plug-in Niro, Soul EV, plug-in Optima, and K900. This Agent allows owners to lock the car, start the engine, or perform a host of other functions remotely via Google Assistant on their phones or Google Home devices.