No longer content to be the butt of jokes about disposable cars, Kia unveiled the radical “Ray” concept at this week’s Chicago Auto Show. Designed as a “plug-in hybrid”, the Ray combines the green appeal of an electric car with the go-anywhere practicality of a gasoline hybrid. For trips of fifty miles or less, the Ray can rely solely on battery power. For longer trips, or in situations where both battery and gasoline power is required, the Ray’s 1.4 liter, 153 horsepower Gasoline Direct Injection motor takes over. The car’s low drag shape, coupled with low rolling resistance tires and hybrid power, help to create a fuel economy rating that tops 200 miles per gallon in electric mode and approaches 78 miles per gallon in hybrid mode.
Kia worked their engineering magic on the interior as well. Using what they’ve billed as “cool car” technology, the Ray utilizes nano-laminate films and cool-glazing materials to reduce solar heat loading.
While there are no current plans to put the Ray into production, technology used in the concept will undoubtedly see production in the future. One hundred and fifty three ponies from a naturally aspirated 1.4 liter motor? Interiors that keep cool, even in Florida heat? If this is an indication of what’s to come, I’m in.