Kia HabaNiro concept
Kia HabaNiro concept

Kia unveils funky electric SUV

THERE are hints of beach buggy with a funky, all-electric twist in Kia's latest concept car, the HabaNiro - a "spicy new vision for the future".

And advanced artificial intelligence technology means it could one day help quell hunger.

Unveiled at the New York motor show, Kia describes the HabaNiro concept as "the everything car", in that it can explore remote country tracks as effortlessly as it drives autonomously around busy cities.

"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," said Tom Kearns, vice president of design for Kia's American Design Center.

"The HabaNiro is a genius work of skill and imagination. Not only does its beautiful design incorporate the needs of future mobility, but its engineering and technology anticipate the way people will want to move in the near future."

Kia claims the HabaNiro concept can travel up to 500km on a single charge.
Kia claims the HabaNiro concept can travel up to 500km on a single charge.

Kia says it is the ultimate crossover vehicle: part city commuter, SUV, adventure vehicle and "state-of-the-art technology workroom".

Plus, its chunky stance has hints of the original beach buggy, albeit with slim LED lights, a roof, four butterfly doors and loads of modern details.

"We imagined a car for everyone and nearly everything," said Kearns. "With its rugged 20-inch wheels, short overhangs and big haunches, the HabaNiro exudes coiled muscularity and capability, whether you're on a grocery run, en route to a meeting or in search of a remote fishing hole."

The HabaNiro is powered by two electric motors driving all four wheels and capable of travelling 500km between charges.

There's also interesting technology attempting to bring the car to life. The LED daytime running lights pulse like a heartbeat, for example, while the system incorporates Kia's READ artificial intelligence to monitor the driver's mood and adjust everything from the rear vision cameras to the ambient lighting and infotainment.

Kia HabaNiro concept will be capable of autonomous driving.
Kia HabaNiro concept will be capable of autonomous driving.

Kia hints AI could soon change the driving experience, anticipating what the driver may want before they think it.

"There are no immediate plans to utilise AI to sense when the driver is hungry and then direct to the nearest drive-through where an order will be waiting, but the technology may someday evolve to make just such a task possible," Kia says in its press release.

While the HabaNiro is a one-off concept car, Kia suggests its futuristic thinking could one day inspire such a versatile crossover machine, adding "we don't advise betting the farm on it" not being produced.

"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," said Kearns.