The compact crossover displayed at the annual tech showcase is designed to showcase the firm’s new ACE – Autonomous, Connected and Eco/Electric – strategy. That strategy includes a plan to offer 16 electrified vehicles by 2025. A production Niro EV, likely featuring the same powertrain as sister firm Hyundai’s Ioniq EV, will go on sale later this year.
The Niro EV Concept unveiled at CES features reworked bodywork from current production versions of the Niro. The radiator grille – which isn’t needed for cooling on an EV – has been replaced with an interactive display panel, while the bodywork has been refined to boost aerodynamic efficiency. Seungbin Yim, Kia's head of emotional design, said: "The Concept shows the language of the Niro EV. The production version will look a little different, because with this car we wanted to explore ideas you can't do on a production model."
Kia has fitted the machine with a 201bhp electric powertrain, which the firm says has been earmarked for use on ‘near-future’ EVs. Power comes from a 64kWh lithium-polymer battery park, giving a claimed driving range of 238 miles. Woong Chul Yang, Kia's vice-chairman in charge of research and development, said the production machine would likely be offered with a choice of two battery sizes: the 64kWh and a smaller, likely 32kWh, unit. "It's good to have options, like you can choose from different car engine sizes for different uses," he said.
While the styling of the Niro EV Concept will be closely related to the production version, other features have been included to showcase more general advanced technology Kia is developing for the future.
The Concept is fitted with an Active Pedestrian Warning System, which detects pedestrians or cyclists crossing in front of the car and sends them a warning alert.
Inside, the Niro EV Concept features a new Human Machine Interface (HMI), with the infotainment and heating systems controlled by swiping on perforated leather area on the botton of the steering wheel. Drivers can ‘log in’ with the HMI using facial and voice recognition systems, enabling personalised settings – with the car able to disable key functions if it does not identify the driver.
The car also features a sound separation control system, which uses eight headrest-mounted speaker and noise cancelling tech to allow front and rear passengers to listen to different music at the same time.
Kia has also fitted the machine with what it says is a world-first ultra-fast 5G mobile connection. This is being demonstrated with a cockpit display on Kia’s stand at CES with a 5G data link to the firm’s base in Seoul, Korea.