By on January 9, 2018

Kia Niro EV

Earlier this year, Tim tested the new Kia Niro, finding it to be a perfectly non-offensive crossover, one that goes about its business with little fuss – which, let’s be honest, is what a good slice of the buying public looks for in a new car.

At the Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas this week, Kia added to the Niro’s lineage with an all-electric version of the compact machine, saying it will offer a range of 238 miles. If that number sounds familiar, it should. It is the exact figure Chevrolet promises for the Bolt.

Kia Niro EV

Created by Kia’s design studio in South Korea, the Niro EV Concept is a fully electric vehicle. Its silhouette largely mimics that of the standard Niro, save for a couple of oddly-shaped lumps on the hood above the strut towers. This may simply be a trick of color and lighting, as its non-EV brother also has styling flourishes in that same area.

Kia mentions that the Niro EV replaces the non-EV’s grille with a “smooth interactive display panel” that appears to spell out a message in the press photos. The company is light on details, but if this panel allows drivers to write a custom message in traffic, it would make for an entertaining commute. This author also thinks the wheels are fantastic. Many will disagree.

Kia Niro EV

The Niro EV Concept is powered by a next-generation electric vehicle powertrain, using new production technologies earmarked for near-future EVs from Kia. Energy is provided by a high-capacity 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, paired with a powerful 150 kW electric motor. The Niro EV Concept suggests a driving range of 238 miles, with zero tailpipe emissions.

As a silent electric car, Kia figures it needs to emit some sort of warning at pedestrians who may be too absorbed in their smartphone to notice an electric Niro bearing down on them. The concept’s new Active Pedestrian Warning System features a combination of front view cameras, object recognition technology and front speakers. If the system detects a pedestrian or cyclist crossing in front of the car, the speakers sound an alert targeted specifically at that person, warning them of the car’s presence.

Kia Niro EV

This differs from other systems currently in operation, which emit a slightly alien warble at all times – whether its surroundings are packed with pedestrians or devoid of humans. Kia says the audible warning works in conjunction with the Niro EV Concept’s new interactive lighting system, offering users and pedestrians visual communication with vehicle as well.

Inside, we find typical show car window dressing complete with an odd two-spoke version of Kia’s corporate steering wheel. While the starship Enterprise gauge displays and gear selector probably won’t make production, the clean look of the rest of its dashboard is appealing and may point to an eventual direction of the brand’s interior design language.

Kia Niro EV

Kia added to the Niro range with a PHEV version late last year, installing a battery pack that provides enough juice for a 60-horsepower electric motor to give the vehicle a gas-free driving range of 26 miles. The standard Niro deploys a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine mated to an electric motor for a total system horsepower of 139, with a combined torque figure of 195 lb-ft.

The company says it will continue to expand its range of environmentally friendly cars in the coming years, planning to offer a total of 16 electrified vehicles by 2025, including a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2020.

It is important to note the distinction of “electrified” vs “electric.” While the pure EV concept shown here is electric, the existing Niro hybrid and Niro PHEV are electrified, as they incorporate a measure of electrons in their propulsion systems. Keep that in mind when a company touts their future product plans, as many will during both CES and NAIAS this month.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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9 Comments on “Its Eyes Are Just Coming In: Kia Niro EV Concept Bows at CES...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    If Kia can do this, and do this affordably, it will be a nice addition to the segment pioneered by the Bolt, and with more utility.

    This also says that Kia may be poised to address one of the main issues I have with the Niro, which is that despite it being a new vehicle, the whole exterior design looks 2009-era. Kia, maybe give the car new front and rear fascias with more exciting lighting elements. And change the door-panel stampings to incorporate more slicker door handles. We’ve seen you do this; you did it in 2012, when the first-gen Soul got its facelift and changed the Rio-sourced “underhand-grab” door handles for contemporary “grasp” units.

    • 0 avatar

      You start out with affordability and then tell them to make all sorts of costly changes. Which do you want?

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’ll give you that for the door stampings, but they will probably move to LEDs for the lamp pods anyway, because they are more energy efficient. So while they’re doing that, maybe they can…er…zhush them up a bit.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is the car I want.

    But I’m confused: With the Niro hybrid and the Niro PHEV already available, why is this car presented as a concept with all the show-car gimmickry?

    I thought the Niro EV would be available later this year, but this visage makes me think it’s pretty far off. Some have said it will be available in mid-2018, but if that’s true, this goofy concept should have been replaced with a pre-production Niro EV.

    If a Niro EV (not this goofy car) is really coming out this year, that would be one more reason to cancel my Model 3 reservation.

  • avatar

    Another tortured sheetmetal special, now with protruding tongues front and rear. Interior reminiscent of a bottom of the line fridge.

    Frankly embarrassing.

  • avatar

    Curbs all over Seoul are just itching to put their mark on those wheels. (And it will be curbs since potholes don’t exist in SK’s capital.)

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