Kia unveils four current models reimagined as autonomous concept cars (Videos)
Kia unveils four current models reimagined as autonomous concept cars (Videos)

Kia unveils four current models reimagined as autonomous concept cars “Videos”

Kia has unveiled four new hand-built and heavily-customised concepts to this year’s SEMA show, exploring active and diverse lifestyles ranging from sports entertainment to business travel.

Niro Triathlon

Master craftsmen at LGE-CTS Motorsports went above and beyond in transforming the Kia Niro Hybrid from a normally boring hatchback into a hard-working triathlete training machine. Removal of the roof from the D-pillars gives the Niro a small bed which provides space for a tool box, a tablet computer mount, and a bike rack to be fitted.

A ONEU safety laser bike lane has been mounted on the rear, which illuminates a laser LED road behind the vehicle that can be used while the car drives itself along at a specified speed. The interior, meanwhile, forgoes passenger and rear seats in place of a spacious area for triathletes to rest.

Sorento Ski Gondola

Call it a bias for production cars set on snow tracks, but we’re picking out the Sorento Ski Gondola as Kia’s most interesting SEMA car this year and probably one of the standouts of the entire show. Much like the Nissan Rogue Warrior concept from earlier this year, the Sorento Ski Gondola is designed to shuttle skiers up and down the slopes, chewing right through everything from powder to ice. The Ski Gondola takes the concept of tracked ski shuttle one step further by driving autonomously.

Lux Motorwerks did the conversion work on this one, adding a set of Dominator rubber tracks with highly visible orange powder coating, a custom roof rack for skis and poles, LED light bars for getting that last run in, and a B pillar-free conversion with suicide rear doors for easy entry and exit. The cabin provides a comfy space for occupants with a tablet computer and waterproof Line-X-treated floors to handle wet boots and clothes. The concept wears PPG Silver Metallic and orange paint and includes a black and orange interior to match.

We would have loved a little more explanation about how today’s autonomous tech could be adopted to the unique challenges of climbing ski slopes and recognizing obstacles like fast-moving downhill skiers and snow-dusted rocks, but the self-driving bit appears to just be a marketing point without any hardware or vision behind it. That’s okay, though; SEMA is all about building out wild visions that will likely never actually see time on any street, trail or ski slope.

Soul First Class

Kia’s boxy Soul has been reimagined as an “upscale inter-city chariot”, which the company says is about optimising work and rest amid the hectic schedule of one’s professional life.

With no driver needed, the Soul First Class has done away with the traditional front dash, adding two rear-facing front seats instead.

The cabin features a 40-inch Samsung LED TV connected to a Mac mini computer and audio system.

Two tablets that live in the motorised centre console allow passengers to control the Soul, while the first-class nature of the vehicle is accentuated by the white and grey diamond-patterned leather throughout the interior, with grey wood flooring.

Outside, the Soul First Class is finished in PPG Lux Blue paint, and the front grilles have been modified with LED lights. Filling the arches are 19-inch alloy wheels.

School of Rock Sedona

Together with School of Rock, a company that provides performance-based music education, Kia transformed the Sedona minivan into a recording studio on wheels. It includes the studio, a “place to chill,” and autonomous capabilities that transport the musician or band to various gigs.

The driver’s side B-pillar, steering assembly, and gear selector have all been removed in place of a digital mixing board and dual flat screen monitors. Front-mounted speakers projects music to the exterior of the car, while a “Recording” light on the top lets passerby know if one is in session.


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