Chicago Show 2010 Highlights: Kia Ray Concept

The claims get your attention. Potential range: 746 miles. Potential fuel economy: 202 mpg. Top speed: 109 mph.

Those projections belong to the Kia Ray, a plug-in hybrid concept car which made its world debut at the Chicago auto show. The fifth vehicle to emerge from Kia’s creative crucible in Irvine, California—officially called Kia Design Center America (KDCA)—the Ray represents an ambitious confluence of style and technology, and was arguably one of the strongest traffic-stoppers at the show.

Using the foundations of the compact Kia Forte sedan, the design was developed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, as well as eye appeal. The high tail, low ride height, and single flat panel covering the underbody components, plus the absence of side mirrors combine to deliver a drag coefficient of just 0.25. At highway speeds, a panel automatically deploys at the rear to enhance aerodynamic performance, as well as stability. Rear and side-view functions are handled by cameras.

Motive power is supplied to the front wheels by a 1.4-liter gasoline direct injection four-cylinder engine and/or a 78-kw (105-hp) electric motor. A lithium-ion polymer battery pack powers the motor, with enough energy on a full charge to propel the car 50 miles in pure electric mode. However, the Ray is also capable of running on its gasoline engine alone, or with a combination of gasoline and electric power, according to Kia.

Like other gasoline-electric hybrids, the Ray uses its transmission and regenerative braking to recharge its battery pack. Unlike most others, its big, all-glass roof is embedded with solar cells that also contribute to battery charging, as well as interior cooling. (The Fisker Karma will incorporate roof-mounted solar cells and the current Toyota Prius offers them as an option.) A set of 20-inch, 195/50 low-rolling-resistance tires enhance efficiency.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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