Kia Motors had their turn on stage at the the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas today and announced they will add 16 new vehicles by 2025 that’ll be electrified. Under its new ‘Boundless for all’ tag line, Kia pitched the world on a future in which opportunities for mobility and transportation are limitless. To broaden horizons with its mobility services, Kia is also demonstrating a range of new technologies as part of its new ‘ACE’ strategy to make its cars more Autonomous, Connected and Eco/Electric.
Vice Chairman and Head of Kia R&D Center, Dr. Woong-chul Yang said,
“‘Boundless for all’ is Kia’s future vision – where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the infinite value that future mobility will bring. This is Kia’s manifesto for its role as a mass mobility provider in the future.
Consumers are bound today by the idea that a car is ‘just a vehicle’, but Kia is committed to providing a broader solution to mobility. ‘Boundless for all’ represents a future in which a vehicle can be so much more than the sum of its parts.”
16 new electrified vehicles by 2025
Kia like many other auto makers are making some large commitments to the electrification and will offer a total of 16 electrified vehicles by 2025, including a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2020.
Vice Chairman Yang said,
“By 2025, we will offer a total of 16 advanced powertrain vehicles, with five new hybrids and plug-in hybrids, five new battery EVs, and an all-new mass market FCEV. Due to launch in 2020, this FCEV will spearhead Kia’s efforts to realize a zero-emission future for mobility,”
In my mind the important piece of that 16 is the 5 all-electric battery-powered EVs. That is so clearly the future, but I understand why companies like Kia put a foot in each camp. While hybrid’s are a far more complicated drivetrain, EVs are still cost prohibitive to reach the desired price points some brands are known for. As the cost of batteries continue to come down this will ineviatably change.
As part of Kia’s strategy, they brought their Niro EV Concept to CES 2018. It combines an impressive modern compact SUV design, with the high efficiency of an advanced battery-electric powertrain, the Kia Niro EV Concept represents the next step in the brand’s ongoing journey to electrification.
Kia have done a lot of great work in the design department over recent years and Kia’s design studio in Korea, did a great job with the Niro EV Concept. The aerodynamically-efficient body lets air to slip over it, around and beneath the vehicle with ease. The traditional grille is no longer required for engine cooling, so gets replaced by a smooth interactive display panel, combined with ultra-slim lamp technology in the overall front. In profile, the concept draws inspiration from the current Kia Niro, with a modish compact crossover silhouette, elevated body and wide C-pillar. The Niro EV Concept’s seamless rear aspect has clean and sharp trailing edges allowing air to flow more easily off the back of the car.
With a silent electric powertrain, and the anticipation that such a car would be driven most frequently on urban and suburban roads, the Niro EV Concept boasts new technologies to enhance safety for pedestrians.
The concept’s new Active Pedestrian Warning System (APWS) features a combination of front view cameras, object recognition technology and front speakers. If the system detects a pedestrian or cyclist crossing in front of the car, the speakers sound an alert targeted specifically at that person, warning them of the car’s presence. APWS is matched by the Niro EV Concept’s new interactive lighting system, which offers users and pedestrians a highly-intuitive visual communication with vehicle.
Inside, the cabin has been designed with a pure, minimalist and digital appearance, creating greater user interaction with new technologies and features. With a wrap-around design to cocoon the driver and passengers, the dashboard’s horizontal layout has broad and smooth surfaces. The effect is an innate sense of space and calm in the cabin, enhanced by the soft shades of silver, grey and bronze covering every surface.
The Niro EV Concept is powered by a next-generation electric vehicle powertrain, using new production technologies earmarked for near-future EVs from Kia. Energy is provided by a high-capacity 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, paired with a powerful 150 kW electric motor. The Niro EV Concept suggests a driving range of 238 miles (383 kilometers), with zero tailpipe emissions.
Now enjoy the image gallery.
Interactive exhibits preview new in-car technology
At CES 2018, Kia is also exhibiting their latest HMI technologies, autonomous drive features and the world’s first in-car 5G connection. These exhibits hint at innovations that could be adapted for use in the brand’s future vehicles. Kia is demonstrating these innovations through a set of interactive cockpit-style experiences, presenting the brand’s ‘Beyond Autonomous Driving’ vision with technologies that idle passengers can draw upon in a future of vehicle autonomy.
The first cockpit gives visitors the chance to experience the Niro EV Concept’s pioneering new HMI, with enhanced interaction between visitors and the vehicle. The infotainment and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems are controlled by touch and gesture, with the steering wheel acting as a remote. The driver can ‘swipe’ along a perforated leather area on the base of the two-spoke wheel, with different gestures serving to switch between favorite music tracks, turn up the volume, and adjust cabin ventilation settings. A digital dashboard display provides additional information to the driver, such as vehicle settings, powertrain status, and trip information.
Creating a more digital interaction between car and driver than in a traditional vehicle, the HMI allows drivers to ‘log-in’ to the vehicle using face and voice recognition. The facial and voice recognition technology, developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), welcomes drivers and adjusts vehicle settings based on preset individual preferences. Leveraging ‘Amazon Rekognition’ and ‘Amazon Polly’ – highly accurate facial analysis and voice services provided by AWS – the new system disables many of the car’s functions if the driver does not pass the identification process.
The HMI cockpit at CES 2018 lets users experiment with these exciting new in-car technologies.
A second cockpit demonstrates the world’s first in-vehicle 5G connection – with a real-time connection established between Las Vegas and Seoul, Korea. The 5G connection enables users to stream contents reliably into the car, linked to the exhibit’s infotainment system.
The second cockpit also presents the Niro EV Concept’s Separate Sound Control System, allowing users in the front and rear rows to experience Kia’s sound separation technology. The technology allows front and rear passengers to listen to their own music at the same time without intruding on others in the car. The system features eight speakers installed in the headrests, simultaneously pumping out sounds for each seat row, and using noise-cancellation technology to ‘mute’ sound from the other row of seats. By creating two sound zones in the car, occupants in different rows can enjoy listening to separate music or podcasts. Developed in-house, Kia believes this technology could be adapted to enhance occupant comfort in future production cars.
Like plenty of booths at CES, visitors can experience Kia’s own autonomous drive support technologies with a series of virtual reality exhibits. The VR simulations demonstrate Kia’s autonomous drive support technologies in a range of environments, via VR headsets.