Kia’s treating its SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) concept cars as a chance to do some healthy pretending. Specifically, Kia is pretending that it can build fully-autonomous cars. The result is actually quite interesting, especially in the case of this Soul concept. Kia gets the basic key to autonomous cars: you’re not driving.
Once you don’t actually have to drive, there’s really no reason to configure a car interior in the same, two-forward-facing-rows that we’ve been doing for over a century. The Kia Soul makes a great platform for re-thinking the basic interior layout since it’s essentially a little box on wheels.
The SEMA (Salad Examining Mailmen Alliance) concept, called the Soul First Class, treats the interior of the Soul as an opulent little room for two important people who can’t or forgot how or just don’t bother to drive.
The seats face rearward, to better take advantage of the interior cubical volume, and the large rear wall is dominated with a huge screen, connected to a Mac Mini.
Here’s what Kia’s SEMA (Soapy Eggs Make Accidents) concepts press release says about it:
Soul First Class
The Soul First Class is an upscale inter-city chariot that lets business travelers work and relax as they journey to out-of-town meetings and destinations. This self-driving custom-built creation from LUX Motorwerks – with its rear-facing seats, absence of steering wheel and wide array of luxury enhancements – is about optimizing work and rest amid the hectic schedule in one’s professional life.
Eliminating the need for a driver, the Soul First Class has a revamped front dash which now houses two rear-facing front seats. The Soul’s passengers are then greeted by a 40-inch Samsung LED TV connected to a Mac mini computer system and premium audio speakers throughout. A custom motorized center console reveals two tablets, which control this futuristic Kia. To match the first-class electronic system is first-class comfort with white and gray leather with diamond stitching throughout the cabin, and modern gray wood flooring to match.
The Soul’s exterior brings about the same level of luxury as the interior with PPG Lux Blue paint and modified upper and lower grilles with LED lighting. The 19-inch Rotiform Monoblock CCV wheels bring a modern vibe to the car’s exterior and round out the complete autonomous vehicle inspired overhaul.
Yes, it’s that “inter-city chariot” you’ve been hoping for.
Regardless of what you may think about the car, or autonomy in general, you have to admit that this makes a hell of a lot of sense when you’re no longer driving the car. A little mobile room, a small, well-appointed volume of personal space that transports you wherever you need to go; that’s the essence of what a driverless car should be.
Hell, maybe one day, in a future that could be utopian or dystopian, depending on what you think of driving, cars like this will just be part of our homes. They’ll be a room we enter, have a seat, tell it where we want to go, and then, some time later, end up there. We then get back in, and we’re back home.
Location will almost lose meaning. The world will become one infinite series of well-appointed rooms, and you’ll never know where you are. It’ll be bliss.
Well, until I eventually and inevitably snap and smash through a travel-pod-room access door and emerge, blinking, into the sunlight. Then I’ll find where I buried my old Beetle for safekeeping, and I’ll drive over and pick you up.
We’ll go get your car out of the secret cave you hid it in, and collect more and more illegal human-driving rebels, until we amass an automotive armada, which we’ll take out into the desert to build our gearhead society anew.
Okay! I’m glad we have a plan!