One of the more understated, but rapidly growing in popularity, automotive brands here in the United States is Kia Motors. This Korean auto manufacturer has been paying much more attention to quality of late, recording in 2009 its 15th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share and recently achieving its best quarter of sales ever. It is now turning its eyes on the growing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) market, unveiling at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show its Ray plug-in hybrid concept.
The Ray concept, like many other similar design ideas, may never see the light of day as a production vehicle in its current form. Many ideas are taken from concepts though and put into later vehicles. Either way, the Ray has some nice specs when it comes to being a plug-in hybrid idea. It is, according to Kia, “designed to reach driving distances of more than 50 miles using its electric motor on a single charge, and has a fuel economy rating of more than 202 miles per gallon, and has a total range of 746 miles.” It is part of Kia Motors’ EcoDynamics sub-brand, which is focused upon developing “fuel-stretching and emissions-cutting technologies.”
Kia has gone and made the Ray be powered “by an all-aluminum 153-horsepower Gasoline Direct Injected (GDI) 1.4-liter engine mated to a permanently-engaged fixed ratio Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), used in combination with a 78kw electric motor.” This hybrid system is tied into lithium-ion polymer batteries and is supplemented by what Kia says is “an engine-power saving alternator management system and a toggle gear-shift up/down indicator” to try and get more economical driving.
Technical specifications of the Ray include drive by wire steering, a top speed of 109 MPH, a fuel economy in pure hybrid electric vehicle mode of 77.6 MPG and dimensions of 173.2- x 72.8- x 53.5-inches. It also has a wheelbase of 106.3 inches.