Kia Motors America took the wraps off the Ray concept at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. There’s no denying the show car reveals a decidedly sportier side of Kia, the likes of which we’ve not previously seen (although the Forte Koup has definitely shown some flair). But beyond its sleek body, the Ray plug-in hybrid sedan is also proof that Kia is continuing to make strides with its EcoDynamics sub-brand, the goal of which is to “develop innovative fuel-stretching and emissions-cutting technologies.” Kia says the Ray concept “demonstrates a prospective plug-in hybrid vehicle configuration.”
The 4-door, 4-seat Ray concept is a compact sedan based on the Forte platform. It’s the fifth vehicle to come from Kia Design Center America in Irvine, California, over the last year (previous: Soul, Forte, Forte Koup and Sorento). The Ray concept uses lightweight materials throughout (many which are recycled) to aid in the car’s efficiency, along with solar cells embedded into the roof-top glass panel that power the climate control system. The roof also features glazing materials said to “dramatically” reduce heat in an effort to keep the interior cool.
The Ray’s exterior shape was inspired from aircraft design to achieve the utmost in aerodynamics, while a one-piece integrated underbody panel and narrow tires (195/50-20s) contribute to its drag coefficient of 0.25. Other notable features include driving lamps which slide rearward to form air intakes for the Ray’s internal combustion engine, and a rear decklid which extends at higher speeds. Sideview mirror and door handle duties are taken care of by flush-mounted motion-detector cameras.
Said Kia design chief Peter Schreyer: “Being green doesn’t have to be an obvious statement anymore and the Kia Ray exemplifies a viable blend of modern, eco-minded features for today’s environmentally conscious consumers.”
If built, Kia says the Ray’s drivetrain could consist of a 153-bhp 1.4-liter Gasoline Direct Injected (GDI) 4-cylinder, a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and a 78-kW electric motor fed by lithium-ion polymer batteries. Power can be sent to the front wheels via the electric motor, the gasoline engine, or both. Kia claims the Ray concept can drive 50 miles on pure electric power. As a plug-in HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle), the Ray, according to Kia, delivers 202 mpg; as a pure HEV, it returns 77.6 mpg. Total range is 746 miles. Top speed is 109 mph.