Kia Motor America pulled the veil on an electric crossover concept called the HabaNiro at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday.
The vehicle looks to be more armchair psychologist than zero-emissions commuter. Kia said the HabaNiro, a wild-looking vehicle, is an “everything car” that can’t be slotted into traditional industry categories like “crossover” or “SUV.”
The HabaNiro has all-wheel-drive and can attain more than 300 miles of range. It also is intended to have a part-time level-five autonomous mode, which means it would run on full autopilot. The wheel and instrument panel retract to create more space in the cockpit when the driverless system is engaged.
JUST A CONCEPT
Although Kia is showing the promise of such technologies in the HabaNiro, it is still a concept vehicle rather than a model intended for production. It may be a decade or more before fully self-driving vehicles are allowed by regulators and commercialized.
To soothe the driver, the HabaNiro is outfitted with Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving, or R.E.A.D., a system that can analyze the current emotional state of its pilot and customize the vehicle’s cabin to stimulate the senses. In theory, this artificial intelligence-based bio-signal recognition technology creates a safer driving experience.
Kia, however, said it doesn’t plan to program R.E.A.D. to sense hunger and subsequently guide the car to the nearest drive-thru.
The whole windshield also serves as a “Minority Report”-esque head-up display controlled by a large touchpad that users engage to move vehicle information across the screen like “chess pieces.” When the self-driving mode is activated, the HUD will display other media. For example, riders can watch a movie on a road trip. The HUD can also display a navigation system with graphic readout.
In place of mirrors, there is a 180-degree video display. It’s integrated with R.E.A.D. so it can sense when the driver is looking for a traditional mirror and automatically flash the behind-the-vehicle view on the HUD.
HabaNiro has a striking aesthetic. It has a forward-leaning posture and a single character line that wraps around the front end, extends on the side panels and sweeps down toward the rear wheels. The C-pillar is flanked by a Lave Red panel, which pops against the gray exterior paint. The downward-pointing headlamps are connected across the glossy black grille, emulating vampire fangs.
There are satin aluminum skid plates and tow hooks. Lava Red accenting shows up on the front fascia as well.