Does Kia’s View of the Future Correspond With What You Want From Self-Driving Cars?
The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show has now officially reached full chat, and many of the major automakers are there to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and concepts. Kia is among them, arriving in Vegas to debut its vision for an autonomous, intelligent, highly connected transportation system that can understand your moods and adapt itself accordingly.
Kia Interactive Cockpit at CES Shows Off Suite of New Technologies
The Kia Niro EV Concept made its debut at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. As ground-breaking as the concept was, the Niro EV also played host to Kia’s suite of new interactive cockpits that point directly to the company’s “Beyond Autonomous Driving vision. The cockpits feature plenty of new technologies, including a new HMI tech, Separate Sound Control System, and the world’s first in-car 5G connection.
The cockpit concepts are more than just novelty items; they’re previews to a future that Kia is pursuing. The first of these two cockpits features the Niro EV Concept’s new HMI system. This new system takes human interaction with the car’s infotainment center to a new level, including the ability to control the infotainment system and HVAC through by touch and gesture. Different gestures denote different commands; these commands range anywhere from switching music tracks, adjusting the sound system’s volume, and changing cabin ventilation settings. Even the steering wheel is in on the advancements, specifically the perforated leather area on its base that drivers can swipe to unlock different commands. The cockpit also has face and voice recognition technology, a development that came to life thanks to Kia’s collaboration with Amazon Web Services. This partnership unlocks the latter’s “Rekognition” and “Polly” software in the car.
The second of these two cockpits is no less groundbreaking than the first. If being the first at anything still counts in this industry, Kia can puff its chest knowing that its cockpit concept carries the world’s first in-vehicle 5G connection. As fast as 4G connection is, 5G connection is the future. Streaming content into the car should be faster and easier if the Korean automaker can leverage this concept application into something real and tangible. At the very least, watching content while running on 5G connection will be more of a spectacle with the cockpit’s other ground-breaking development, the Separate Sound Control System. In so many words, this tech creates two sound zones in the car, one in the two front seats and another in the rear seats, without one intruding on the other. Eight speakers are installed in the headrests, and the addition of noise-canceling technology helps mute the sound coming from the other seats, allowing a specific occupant, whether it’s the driver or the passenger, to enjoy his brand of music or podcast on his own.
Kia Bringing WiBLE Car-Sharing Service to Europe in 2018
Kia’s new “ACE” strategy may have dominated the headlines at the Consumer Electronics Show, but that’s not the only major news to come out of the Korean automaker. Alongside the ACE initiative, Kia also announced plans to roll out its “WiBLE car-sharing service in Europe later this year. The service itself isn’t entirely new — it’s already operational in South Korea — but its expansion into some of Europe’s biggest cities is a sign that the service is ready for a more global reach.
The WiBLE car-sharing service is as it’s described. It’s going to be set up in city centers where Kia vehicles will be provided to customers who need to drive a car but may not necessarily own one. In the same breath, the service also helps those who want more convenient cars to take them to-and-from different locations. The soon-to-be-launched WiBLE operation in Europe is expected to follow a similar template to the one it’s already running in its home market. A variety of Kia models will be made available to customers, including the Soul EV and the Niro hybrid crossover. The automaker’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs are also expected to be included in the car-sharing service.
Once operational, the car-sharing service can be accessed via a smartphone app, similar to how other car- and ride-sharing services like Uber, Grab, and Lyft operate. Users will have to pay for individual journeys where they’ll be charged depending on the amount of time they spend using the car. The service also allows users to use the cars on one-way drives. In some ways, Kia’s WiBle service is not entirely different from Volvo’s Sunfleet service, which is already operational in international markets. Other automakers that have launched similar car-share services include General Motors’ Maven, BMW’s ReachNow, and Mercedes-Benz’s Croove.
Kia hasn’t announced which European cities will get first dibs on the WiBLE car-sharing service. An announcement is expected to come sometime this year.
Kia Aims to Offer Connected Cars in All Segments; Promises 16 New Electrified Vehicles by 2025
Kia has officially revealed its entire connectivity strategy at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The strategy, called “ACE,” aims to put a strong focus on autonomous vehicle technology, connectivity, and eco/electric platforms, hence the acronym “ACE.” These pursuits will coincide with the company’s other plan of introducing an entire model range of connected cars by the year 2030, and at least 16 electric cars by the year 2025.
A big part of that multi-level strategy rests on how Kia is able to accelerate its development in the areas it mentioned. In terms of autonomous vehicle, the plan is to roll out self-driving cars that feature level 4 autonomy by 2021. This goal goes hand-in-hand with plans to induce “Smart City” autonomous vehicle testing, which Kia also hopes to roll out by 2021.
In terms of connected services, the company’s goal is to have its entire model range adopt the technology by 2030. There’s a longer 12-year timetable to achieve that vision, and it successful, we’re going to see each Kia model become a highly connected car by the time 2030 rolls around. When that time comes, Kia also hopes to have all of its cars carrying eco/electric powertrains. That includes hybrids, EVs, and even fuel-cell EVs.
Kia’s plan to push for these technologies comes at a time when just about every automaker is doing the same thing. Dr. Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman and Head of the Kia R&D Center, says it’s become imperative for Kia to go all-in with the development of these technologies. "Virtual reality, self-driving cars, and ‘vehicle-to-everything’ connectivity were all once considered technologies of the distant future," he said. "As they rapidly become a reality, Kia is exploring how to deploy these new technologies for its customers. Our strategy and vision for future mobility (are) demonstrated by a range of interactive displays, showing what our customers can look forward to."
You Can Now Ask Google to Start Your Kia Using Your Phone
Kia joined this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to unveil the Niro EV, an almost production-ready version of its first electric crossover, but it’s also using the Las Vegas event to introduce a new feature to its UVO infotainment system. Starting 2018, certain models will have infotainment systems compatible with Google Assistant, which will enable owners to execute a variety of remote commands. Likely to extend across the entire Kia range in the future, integration with Google Assistance is available only for models equipped with the UVO system so far. The list includes the Niro PHEV, Soul EV, Optima PHEV, and the K900 flagship sedan.
Kia Niro EV Unveiled with 238 Miles of Range at CES
Tested on public roads since 2017, the all-electric version of the Kia Niro was unveiled in concept form at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As seen in the teaser photos, the Niro EV is pretty much a slightly modified Niro with conceptual features inside and out. While some will make it into production in the future, there’s no word on how many of them will be found in the electric crossover.
2018 Kia Niro EV Concept
Launched for the 2017 model year, the Kia Niro is a subcompact crossover positioned below the popular Sportage. Previewed by a concept vehicle introduced in 2013, the Niro is built on the same platform as the Hyundai Ioniq, and it’s available with a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and electric motor combo, in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. A gasoline-only version isn’t on a drawing table yet, but a fully electric model is definitely underway. Already spotted testing on public roads in 2017, the Niro EV broke cover at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in concept form.
Heavily based on the production model, the electric concept is more than just a Niro with an electric motor and a battery. Kia also meddled with the exterior design and created a new lighting system for the show car. Inside the cabin, it features an updated "human-machine interface" and an array of new safety features. Surprisingly enough, Kia redesigned the Niro’s interior for the all-electric model. Alongside the Niro EV, Kia also unveiled plans to launch 16 new electrified vehicles by 2025. The range includes five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five all-electric models, and a hydrogen-powered vehicle. The latter is planned to arrive in 2020 and could be based on the Hyundai Nexo, also unveiled at the 2018 CES.
The production version of the Niro EV is likely to debut by the end of 2018.
Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Niro EV concept.
Kia to Show Off its Electrified Future at CES 2018 with the Niro EV Concept
Kia will head to the Consumer Electronics Show in full force with a new all-electric concept car. The new concept is called the Niro EV, and it’s actually a model that we’ve seen recently in the wild getting some test runs under its belt. The Niro EV is unlikely to hit production anytime soon, but it does feature a slate of new technologies that Kia hopes will be introduced on production models in the coming years.
The Consumer Electronics Show was once a show that showed off various technologies for the home, new computer systems, new mobile devices and the like, but this year, CES seems more like an auto show than an electronics show. As our society gears up and aims for autonomous cars, the major auto manufacturers are engaged in what seems like the biggest competition since the space race. Once such manufacturer that is putting its all into technology development is Kia Motors, with is new sub-brand DRIVE WISE.
At CES this year, Kia has put on display its current autonomous technologies and what it is going to be developing over the next 10 to 15 years, as we slowly move over driverless cars. These new technologies will provide a higher level of driver assistance and improve safety by “eliminating the inherent dangers, stresses, and hassles of driving.” Current DRIVE WISE technologies on display at CES include Highway Autonomous Driving, Urban Autonomous Driving, Preceding Vehicle Following, Emergency Stop System, Traffic Jam Assist, and Autonomous Parking & Out functionality. These technologies will be able to identify potential hazards and react to them as soon as possible if the driver fails to.
That isn’t all that DRIVE WISE has to offer, however. It also includes a new way to for humans to connect with their cars by using things like gesture control (Like we see in the BMW 7 Series,) fingerprint sensors, and advanced connectivity between the car and other smart devices. Kia is calling it I-Cockpit. By using fingerprints, future cars will be able to identify who is in the driver seat, and automatically adjust everything in the cabin to their liking – think of this as the seat, pedal, and steering wheel memory functions available in current cars, just way more advanced.
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