Laas Vegas, Nevada - Ever wondered if somebody could build a car to suit your superfit lifestyle? Kia did, and came up with a concept SUV that drives itself while you train and afterwards provides a refuge in a cabin designed to relax and recharge.
It’s called the Niro Triathlon and it was unveiled at this week’s Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas.
Envisioning a future when vehicles will not only drive autonomously but be tailor-built to our lifestyles, Kia reckons this self-driving SUV will make the perfect set of wheels for triathletes as they power through long training runs, bike rides and swims, often in remote areas.
The craftsmen at LGE-CTS Motorsports took a basic Niro hybrid SUV (which isn’t sold in South Africa) and custom-built it into a true crossover-utility lifestyle vehicle.
Easy access into the one-seater cabin has been facilitated by removing the passenger-side B pillar and modifying the rear doors to open a full 90 degrees, creating a giant maw into which to pile your stuff. There are custom cabinets for holding parts and gear.
Removing the roof from the D-pillars back has created a small load bed that allows for a custom bike rack, tool box and tablet computer mount, and to which a bicycle can be easily locked in place for repairs or transport.
After your athletic exertions let the Niro Triathlon drive you home all by itself, while you relax and catch up on 40 winks. Wonder if they'll ever build one for tired old motoring journalists, complete with draught beer on tap?
The really clever bit is the Niro’s ability to drive itself and keep pace while you run or cycle behind it.
A OneU safety laser bike lane light mounted to the rear illuminates a laser LED road behind the vehicle and the athlete can monitor speed, time and distance covered via the tablet mounted on the rear. The tablet can also be docked inside the vehicle for entertainment or performance analysis.
After the workout the car drives itself home while the tired athlete relaxes in the ultra-comfortable reclining chair and checks out their Strava segments.
There’s even a portable shower for a quick post-race clean-up.
Follow Denis Droppa on Twitter @DenisDroppa