Their kimchi might be a touch overripe.
Korean marque Kia may have lost their marbles somewhat, with the unveiling of their HabaNiro concept at the New York International Auto Show the most obvious indicator. For starters they’re saying that their concept car, which might not even have a running drivetrain, packs “more advanced tech than what helped land men on the moon.” While you could dismiss that (and the claim that this is a “genius work of skill & imagination”) as boastful, self-serving communication, what is a bit more difficult to put aside is the fact that they think this little oddity should be called an ‘Everything Car.’
Removed from the marketing nonsense, the HabaNiro is an all-electric crossover concept with Level 5 autonomy and a cruising range in excess of 480km. This “hot and spicy” concept car claims to accommodate for how “people will want to move in the near future” which certainly caught this writer by surprise, having assumed that we’d just keep moving the way we always have.
But while the bare-bones of the HabaNiro appear promising, it’s the rubbish they’ve tacked on to it that tempts us to take the piss out of them. For starters the LED daytime running lights have a “heartbeat pulse” to let you know that the car is “alive,” which just sounds like a new way to trigger Skynet-related paranoia. This is made worse by the existence of “black aluminium teeth” on the “shark’s snout,” which in English refers to the narrow slit beneath the bonnet but above the front bumper.
There’s lots of other stuff too, like a full-width heads-up display controlled by a concave acrylic instrument panel that acts as an enormous touchpad, as well as a ‘Technical Option Sharing System’ (or TOSS) that allows you to move stuff across the HUD “as though moving chess pieces,” because playing chess is obviously something that the average millennial can immediately relate to.
They’ve also done away with the rear-view mirror in the middle by hyper-complicating matters. There’s something called an Eye Tracking System in the HabaNiro which, when it senses you’re looking to where a rear-view mirror normally would be, will trigger a 180º rear-view video display. How that has done the job any better than a piece of glass (or for that matter, than the video-feed systems you get in modern Cadillacs) is still unclear.
Ultimately, the HabaNiro is a concept that takes all of the ideas floating around Kia’s American design centre and puts it into one relatively-palatable package. We’re hoping that it doesn’t directly translate into a production model but realistically, a lot of the innovations seen here could be further refined before application into a car that one of us might actually buy.