After a rather cryptic teaser, Korean automaker Kia has pulled the wraps off its latest concept, the Niro EV. The Niro is hardly an unfamiliar vehicle (for those who pay attention), having been seen in hybrid and plug-in hybrid guises in various markets around the world. Indeed, a full-electric powertrain would be new for the Niro, but that’s hardly deserving of a concept car now, is it?
What is concept-car worthy is the amount of tech that Kia’s shoehorned into the Niro EV, as a clear, unquestionable display of intent and direction for the increasingly-popular marque. Having overcome brand perception issues in its formative years, Kia is now very much intent to make itself even more prominent among its mass-market contemporaries, with the Niro EV offering greater in-car connectivity than ever seen before by the brand.
With the Niro EV, Kia is showcasing advanced car tech like 5G connectivity and Advanced Pedestrian Warning System (which can make out cyclists and pedestrians and notify the driver of any potential risk). The Niro EV also signals Kia’s first solid move towards vehicular autonomy, with the company communicating its plans to start “Smart City” autonomous vehicle testing in about 3-years time. This, it says, will be the beginning of the process of getting Level 4 autonomous driving to market.
Kia says that the Niro EV, which will hit the market in non-autonomous just-electric form this year, will also mark the first in a 16 “advanced powertrain” offensive that will conclude by 2025. This strategy will include hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVs, and fuel-cell vehicles. Further, company announced its intention to widen the offering of its WiBLE car-sharing service, with Europe being the first destination. WiBLE is an app-based car reservation system, which has already been launched in Korea.
The intentions and direction that Kia’s publicising will truly set the company in good stead among its peers, and put it firmly in the right position to keep up with the pack moving forwards. This, paired with sister-company Hyundai’s N-Division and its strides towards creating properly driver-focused cars, puts the Hyundai Motor Company (under which Kia resides) in a prime spot to keep growing.