CES: Kia previews its electrified, autonomous future
Las Vegas — South Korea automaker Kia rolled the dice at the CES technology show Monday with a big play for a self-driving, electrified future.
As part of its “ACE” strategy — autonomous, connected and eco/electric — Kia announced plans to test an autonomous vehicle fleet by 2019, introduce 16 new, battery-powered vehicles by 2025, and make all its models “connected cars” by 2030.
The autonomous fleet-testing in 2019 will be followed by fully self-driving commercial vehicles in cities by 2021 as part of Kia’s Smart City pilot project.
Kia kicked off its electrification strategy by unveiling its Niro EV Concept, an electric car based on the same platform as the 2018 Niro hybrid SUV that Kia launched at the 2017 Super Bowl in ads starring comedian Melissa McCarthy. Kia already has the Soul EV in its lineup, which boasts a 111-mile range.
The EV concept also debuts safety technologies that detect pedestrians and cyclists — then warn them of the vehicles presence with speakers and lights.
With a large 64-kWh battery pack, the Niro EV promises a range of 238 miles, similar to the Chevy Bolt EV — the first EV under $40,000 to get more than 200 miles of range.
Kia also introduced a variety of interior, human-machine interface systems at its CES booth.
UVO Agent, available on select Kia models, acts as an in-car digital assistant for a variety of tasks including remote-start, charging and climate control.
Innovations on display include a steering wheel-based infotainment and climate systems operated by gesture and touch controls. Kia also paired with Amazon Web Services to create facial-recognition technology that will disable the car if the driver does not pass identification. Kia is showcasing the first-ever use of 5G connectivity, and noise-cancellation technology that allows front and rear passengers to listen to different music from the car’s headrest speakers.