The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is in full swing, and making its debut is the Kia Niro EV Concept. Aside from the concept, the South Korean carmaker is also demonstrating a range of new technologies as part of its new ‘ACE’ strategy to make its cars more autonomous, connected and eco/electric.

Focusing on the concept first, the fully-electric compact SUV is powered by a powertrain that has been earmarked for future EVs from Kia. A 150 kW (201 hp) receives energy from a 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, which has a claimed driving range of 383 km.

The design you see here is the work of Kia’s design studio in Korea, and is based on the current road-going Niro. Revisions to reflect its new powertrain type include the lack of a traditional front grille – replaced by an interactive panel that displays text or graphics. This panel is flanked by slim headlights, while the rear gets 3D-effect taillights. According to Kia, the exterior has been made to be more aerodynamically efficient, as those wheels suggest.

Inside, the minimalist cabin features a two-spoke steering wheel, digital driving display, a dash-mounted touchscreen for the infotainment system and the “gear selector” is a rotating dial on the centre console. That last bit is joined by a drive mode selector as well as Kia’s Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS).

As you can tell most of the interactions with the car’s system are done via touchscreen, although you can even “login” to the vehicle using face and voice recognition. This security feature was developed with Amazon Web Services, and disables many functions if the driver fails the identifications process.

A second cockpit on display demonstrates in-vehicle 5G connection technology, a complement to connected infotainment services. Also being present is the Niro EV Concept’s Separate Sound Control System, which allows front and rear passengers to listen to their own music at the same time without intruding on others in the car. An array of eight speakers and noise-cancellation technology create two sound zones in the car, and the technology was developed in-house.

Given the largely silent nature of the electric powertrain, the Niro EV Concept comes with new technologies to enhance safety for pedestrians. The vehicle’s Active Pedestrian Warning System (APWS) features a combination of front view cameras, object recognition technology and front speakers.

Should the system detect 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. The system works together with the concept’s interactive lighting system, which offers users and pedestrians a highly-intuitive visual communication with vehicle.

The concept is part of Kia’s strategy to offer a total of 16 electrified vehicles by 2025, including a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2020. “By 2025, we will offer a total of 16 advanced powertrain vehicles, with five new hybrids and plug-in hybrids, five new battery EVs, and an all-new mass market FCEV. Due to launch in 2020, this FCEV will spearhead Kia’s efforts to realize a zero-emission future for mobility,” said Woong-chul Yang, vice chairman and head of Kia R&D Centre.

As mention at the start, Kia’s ‘ACE’ strategy involves three components, where autonomous involves the company planning to commercialise Level 4 autonomous driving technology. These ‘Smart City’ autonomous vehicles will commence testing later in 2021.

Next up, connected car technologies will be a staple in every vehicle segment, with the goal to make every single model a connected car by 2030. Lastly, electrified powertrains will be a big part of the carmaker’s model line-up, with up to 16 set to be offered by 2025.