Kia describes the HabaNiro concept, unveiled this week at the New York motor show, as its ‘Everything Car’, a crossover as at home on the shopping run as employing its full all-wheel-drive system on a treacherous off-road course.
However the clue to the concept’s future is in its name, as this car likely previews the next generation of the Niro. This is expected to launch in 2021 as a successor to the current model, which in electric form particularly is experiencing huge demand.
The HabaNiro is a fully-electric crossover, based on a new, dedicated electric vehicle platform, unlike the current e-Niro that uses an adapted version of the standard platform.
The concept also extends the e-Niro’s range from 282 to over 300 miles, and adds the all-wheel-drive which would likely be an option on future production Niros.
It also showcases level five autonomy. The car can completely drive itself, the steering wheel and instrument panel retracting to free up more cabin space and the head-up display on the front screen turning into an entertainment screen for occupants.
A lack of outlandish styling touches on the HabaNiro also points towards a production future, though we suspect the Lamborghini-style butterfly-wing doors will not make it onto a showroom car.
Likewise the full ‘lava red’ interior, with its simplistic design — completely doing away with traditional buttons and switches and relying instead on an array of head-up displays — will likely become something more recognisable on the next production Niro.
The car also carries Kia’s ‘R.E.A.D’ concept feature — this tracks a driver’s movements and other signals to alter cabin conditions to suit their mood, and even brings up rear-view displays on the windscreen when eye movement is detected.
According to Tom Kearns, design head at Kia’s US office, the concept was designed to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures.
“We imagined a car for everyone and nearly everything – then, when we saw the finished product, we were blown away by the imagination of the HabaNiro’s creators and its laboratory of technology and we want it in our driveways, today,” Kearns says.