Talking about the butterfly wing doors, Kahl added: “It’s probably not possible for the Niro but it’s a great way to showcase the interior and technology for this show car. But I would say never say never for a future halo car, because obviously those doors would be expensive.”
Speaking more broadly on design, he said: “We have a history of making concepts cars that lead to production cars. HabaNiro is our idealised view of where NIro could go, so don’t be surprised if you see some influence in the next Niro.”
Inside the concept, rectangular screens and traditional control knobs have been replaced by a full-width head-up display which allows users to swipe and move vehicle options across the windscreen.
In fully autonomous mode, the HabaNiro’s steering wheel and instrument panel retract to give more room for front occupants and media can be display on the head-up display. While advanced self-driving systems won’t be launched in the next-generation Niro, Kia is already testing such technology at its base in South Korea.
The HabaNiro also features Kia’s Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving System (READ), first shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. It can personalise the cabin by reading a driver’s emotions in real time through artificial intelligence-based recognition technology. Again, Kia plans to introduce such technology, but not in the short term.
A Kia spokesman said: “The HabaNiro is a compact crossover utility vehicle only in terms of existing industry category language. But the HabaNiro can’t be so easily defined. It’s essentially an all-electric Everything Car, or ECEV: commuter, crossover, sport utility, state-of-the-art technology workroom and adventure vehicle.
“We wanted this concept to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures.”
The current Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants have recently been facelifted, drawing the exterior closer in look to the e-Niro while adding greater connectivity inside.
Kia will launch hybrid versions of its Ceed hatch and estate later this year, while its yet-to-be-revealed XCeed SUV is also set to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
There are no imminent plans for more electric models beyond the e-Niro and new electric Soul. A production version of the four-door performance Kia by Imagine concept from this year's Geneva motor show is due in 2021.