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Kia at the 2016 SEMA Show

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SEMA is just about every automotive enthusiasts’ favorite time of the year. Whether it be the location Nevada, Las Vegas or the latest car and product news SEMA has it all.

Kia this year for SEMA brought about a completely different theme that separated themselves from the other exhibitors. For SEMA KIA built 4 completely autonomous vehicles each designed around a different purpose. The Kia Sedona School of Rock, Kia Niro Triathlon, The Soul First Class, and Sedona Ski Gondola.

The things all these vehicles have in common was they had no steering wheel and all seats faced each other. Kia presented everyone with what the future would be like with Autonomous driving by applying it to four different areas each taking full advantage of the Autonomous driving and using the time and mental energy saved to better use.

This year it seemed that although many manufacturers were for Autonomous driving in the beginning they shield away from it towards the end, while Kia instead promoted it, along with their goal of having a fully Autonomus driving vehicle by 2030. Kia also presented their Telluride concept vehicle, the large size SUV was quite a site for sore eyes since it had a steering wheel and off-road capabilities, the styling resembles that of a range rover, with a beautiful British green paint job.

Kia’s direction this year is to not only promote the future of driving, but also show the people the steps Kia is making during the journey with their safety and semi-autonomous features becoming available in many if not all the SX model trim vehicles. With the goal of becoming the industry leader in Autonomous Driving and ranking 1st in quality according to J.D. Power and Associates Kia is off to a great start.

Autonomous driving will be a great challenge for Kia but possibly the card they need to change their image. Coming from a more performance driving point of view it does raise some concerns as I,  like many people, enjoy the feel and control of the steering wheel, accelerator/brake pedal. But just like the tune of carbureted vehicles has long since been left behind, so may manual controls of vehicles. Furthermore, as technology has changed so have people with a new generation of individuals preferring rides, and public transportation instead of individually owning a vehicle or driving themselves. I believe Kia among others have foreseen this and will begin building the infrastructure to make it happen.

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Eli Villa

-Owner of Evilla Motorsports, a company that specializes in developing high performance parts and accessories for Kia and Hyundai Vehicles. -Sponsored Driver for the 2015 Veloster Challenge, taking 2nd place in the Championships with a naturally aspirated Kia Rio against turbo charged Hyundai Velosters. -Devoted enthusiast to the Korean car brand always working to increase popularity and awareness of Korean cars in motorsports.

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