Kia's latest concept, the HabaNiro, sure is an unconventional show car. It exemplifies a lot of the trends we're seeing in new concept cars, but Kia's butterfly-doored EV is still a unique machine.
Kia on Wednesday unveiled the HabaNiro concept at the. While it fits within the physical dimensions of a compact crossover, Kia is insistent that this concept busts beyond those three mere dimensions with a raft of technologies meant to make life easier as the industry moves into electrification and automation.
Let's talk about the style before we dig into the tech. While the HabaNiro concept carries the same name (or part of it, at least) as an actual production vehicle, the two are only alike in general silhouette. The HabaNiro ramps up, well, just about everything. The front end keeps the lights low, allowing for a full clamshell hood with a set of aluminum "teeth" in the slit just underneath. It looks rugged too, thanks to chunky tires, an approach-friendly front bumper and front-wheel-arch cladding that blends into the rest of the bodywork. And then there's the doors -- all four of them have butterfly-type hinges for far easier getting in and out than most people will ever need.
Inside, Kia keeps things interesting by way of a red interior, fabric-trimmed front seats, ambient light in the floor and a complete lack of traditional screens and buttons. This is where all that newfangled tech comes into play. The entire windshield acts as a head-up display. It's manipulated by way of a touchpad in the instrument panel. Occupants can swipe things up to the HUD like they might move icons on a desktop screen. When the vehicle is operating autonomously -- of course it's capable of that -- the windshield can double as a massive entertainment system. The steering wheel and instrument panel retract in autonomous mode, as well, to offer up a bit more interior volume.
Things get even weirder from here. The HabaNiro concept has an eye-tracking system that can tell when the driver is looking where the rearview mirror would normally be. But there's no mirror there -- instead, the system notices the driver's intent and slaps a rearward view right on the windshield display. The eye-tracking is part of a system that Kia calls the Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (READ) system,. It's capable (in theory) of monitoring a person's emotional state and tailoring the interior to suit.
Underneath the body is an electric powertrain that places a single electric motor at each axle, enabling all-wheel drive. It has an estimated range of 300-plus miles, but to be honest, the EV powertrain is probably the least exciting thing about this concept. It hits all the notes a concept car should in 2019 -- it looks crazy, it has weird doors, it puts lights in places you wouldn't expect and it's loaded with tech that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a science fiction book.
Originally published April 17 at 1 p.m. ET.
Update, 4:18 p.m. ET: Adds new photos from the show floor.