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Kia’s SEED Concept Is the Start of Car-ception

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The Car-ception has begun with Kia’s SEED concept — its car-within-a-car concept — which was shown at CES 2019. The SEED concept takes the future of transportation in a slightly different direction, though the bulk of it still focuses on electric and autonomous cars.

The SEED vehicle itself is more like an electric bike than a full blown car. It’s powered by you, the passenger, with electronically-assisted pedaling. Kia claims the system will be nearly effortless, with the bulk of the work done by the small electric motors attached to each of the back wheels and not a central engine.

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All of your energy peddling will go into a battery and then into the motors, so you’re juicing it up with electricity and not directly providing the car’s movement, but electric-peddle assisted bikes and vehicles aren’t a new concept by themselves.

The unique part about SEED is that you and the SEED units will be housed in an autonomous shuttle called BIRD. We’re detecting a theme here.

Kia’s SEED concept has a limited range of around 62 miles before it needs to be charged, which would normally limit it to short excursions in the city or around a small town. That’s why the BIRD shuttles SEED units over longer distances, like along highways and between cities. When you’re within 62 miles of your destination, the BIRD will release you in a waiting SEED where you’ll close that final gap with easy peddling.

This idea could deal a mortal blow to urban traffic. Instead of everyone bringing their personal cars in to the city and clogging up the streets, the BIRD will be able to drop groups of people off in individual SEED units without going inside the city at all.

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The plan is for SEEDs to be small and thin enough to be registered as an electric bike, so you can ride in the bike lane. You also supposedly won’t need a driver’s license or car insurance since you’re just driving a bike. No getting drunk though: bikes are considered vehicles and driving one while drunk will net you a DUI.

When you’re ready to go, you can take another SEED back to the BIRD and do it all in reverse.

We’d like to try it out, but right now it’s just a far-off concept, and Kia hasn’t announced any definite plans to produce it.