Kia’s Autonomous HabaNiro Concept Wants to Be the ‘Everything Car’

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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Remember that song “Everything to everyone” from 1997 by the band Everclear? The Kia HabaNiro concept is essentially the automotive version of that. I’m not really kidding either. Kia brags that the HabaNiro is “an all-electric Everything Car or ECEV – commuter, crossover, sport utility, state-of-the-art technology workroom and adventure vehicle.”

With that almost impossible objective set, let’s dig into the specifications of the twee Korean EV, shall we?

First off, the HabaNiro is an electric vehicle with four butterfly-wing doors. It’s rated to achieve a range on a single charge of more than 300 miles. With an electric motor in the front and rear, it’s an all-wheel drive EV at that. With powerful body lines that Kia says “exude coiled muscularity” and aluminum skid plates, it’s a vehicle that you can drive sportily on and off road.

On The Road To Scoville

Kia HabaNiro concept is ‘an all-electric Everything Car.’ | Photo: Kia

What’s more, it is autonomous, too. That’s right, Kia claims the HabaNiro includes Level 5 automated driving technology. That means it’s smart enough to drive anywhere on any surface at any time, fully autonomously.

With that self-driving tech engaged, the steering wheel retracts. This allows the driver and passengers to enjoy not only more interior space but also the full-width head-up display (HUD), which is projected across the windshield. Information shown on the HUD is controlled by way of a Technical Option Sharing System (TOSS), which is essentially a touchpad that allows users to move displays around the HUD projection.

More than just an information display, while in autonomous driving mode, movies can be projected across the HUD. Should the driver want a view of the outside during the movie, however, the car’s eye-tracking technology will detect when the driver looks to where a rearview mirror would normally be mounted and project the video from the 180-degree rear-facing camera across the HUD.

HabaNiro also features Real-time Emotional Adaptive Driving (READ) that, well, reads the occupants emotional state and adjust automated driving style accordingly. Presumably, if you’re agitated, for example, HabNiro will recognize this and drive more calmly.

In the release detailing the HabaNiro, Kia cheekily suggests that it might send HabaNiro into production — and soon. However, it’s butterfly-wing doors probably won’t make it past Kia’s accountants. Kia cites the Telluride SUV and Stinger sports sedan as former concept vehicles that garnered so much public attention that the Korean carmaker sent them into production.

While Kia could indeed send a sportier-looking EV soft-roader into production, I doubt very much that it will offer Level 5 autonomous driving technology in said EV. And I say that because Level 5 is essentially theoretical at this point. However, I give Kia kudos for even pretending.

In terms of its aspirations to please all people all the time always, that might be a bridge too far. Usually vehicles — as is true with humans — that try to master all things usually wind up a master of nothing. I recommend Kia pair back at least a few of its aspirations for the HabaNiro. That way, it has a better chance of hitting a few marks rather than running the risk of missing them all.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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