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Kia unveils its electric and autonomous future

Hey Google, start my Kia.
Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys
January 8, 2018
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Kia's showed off a new Niro EV along with its plans for an electrified and autonomous future (aka mobility). The electric concept shows that the company is thinking beyond gas and hybrid crossovers, but also showcases a new HMI (Human Machine Interface). It'll show up in showrooms in the later half of 2018.

Gallery: Kia Niro EV Concept | 7 Photos

While this concept is here now, the company announced it would have 16 electrified (EV, PHEV, and FCEL) by 2025 with an all new fuel-cell vehicle landing in 2020.

The Niro's exterior looks familiar, but the interior infotainment system is a peek at what's coming down the line from the automaker along with the new "motion graphic" lighting system.

The Kia Niro EV Concept has a range of 238 miles via a 64kWh battery pack. That powers a single 150kW motor. No word on when this particular car will be for sale. But Kia did mention that the technology found in the car could be an indicator of what to expect in future vehicles from the automaker.

As for its mobility plans, its Korea-based WiBLE car-sharing service will expand to Europe and other regions in 2018. The automaker also shared that it plans to begin testing level 4 vehicles in 2021.

In addition to showing off the future, the automaker also announced that Google Assistant will be part of its UVO infotainment system. The update is already rolling out to 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In, Soul EV, Optima Plug-In and K900 vehicles with UVO hardware.

After setting up the feature with Google Home or the Google Assistant app, drivers can remotely start and stop the engine on their car. They can also remote start and stop charging, honk the horn and turn on and off the lights from afar and lock their vehicle with a "Hey Google."

Plus Kia's will be able to pull off the usual "Hey Google" queries like what's the weather, tell it what songs to play and ask it who played Cameron in the 1986 classic, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

No word on what happens to Kia's hamster mascots when all their vehicles are fully autonomous.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

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