The Kia HabaNiro Concept Is a Rad, Butterfly-Doored Tech Showcase
The technology is fascinating, but the best thing might be how it looks.
The Kia HabaNiro all-wheel-drive EV concept made its debut at the 2019 New York auto show, proving that corporate sister Genesis isn't the only one who can come up with food-themed monikers for show cars.
Funnily enough, this isn't a hot-rod Niro, as you might expect from its name, but rather a showcase for new technologies. With any luck, it also shows us the future direction for Kia styling, with a definitive move away from the bug-eyed Sportage and milquetoast Niro. Kia classifies the HabaNiro as an ECEV—which it says stands for "The Everything Car EV"—but that's only the beginning of the acronyms and initialisms. Most remarkable among them is a full-width virtual dash display with visual elements that can be manipulated via gestures. Kia calls this the Technical Option Sharing System, or TOSS, and it uses a technology called Sensory Light Feedback, or SLF. The interior also features an ambient lighting system, and yep, Kia has got an acronym for that, too—LCE, for Lighting Color Effect.
The HabaNiro's Real-time Emotion Adaptive System (READ) uses bio-signal recognition technology to gauge the driver's mood and adjust the cabin environment accordingly. The most useful element of this may be the Eye-Tracking System (ETS), which senses the driver's eyes moving to the top-center of the windshield (where the mirror normally lives) and activates a full-width rearview monitor.
Kia hasn't provided many details about the electric powertrain, only saying that it features two motors and an all-electric range (AER—no, seriously, it used an acronym for that, too) upwards of 300 miles.
We rather like the HabaNiro's red C-pillars and roof, largely because it's one of the few elements of the car for which Kia has not coined an acronym, but also because it reminds us of the Stonic, a brilliant European- and Asian-market compact SUV that we'd like to see Kia bring to the U.S. And while the HabaNiro press release gave us a bad case of AIOS—Acronym and Initialism Overexposure Syndrome—it's exciting to see these future technologies on display, and we look forward to seeing them in future production Kias. Sorry, make that FPKs.