This is the first electric vehicle launched by either of South Korea's primary automakers.
In Hyundai and Kia, South Korea is home to two of the biggest automakers in the world yet only now does it have an electric vehicle. Intended exclusively for the Korean market, the Kia Ray EV will initially be used by government agencies and public offices with 2,500 units penciled in for production in 2012. A 16.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that sits under the rear seat and cabin floor powers a 50kW electric motor that produces 123lb-ft of torque.
Although the EV is 187kg heavier than its gas-powered relative, the Ray CUV, it boasts faster acceleration with Kia claiming a 0-62mph sprint time of 15.9 seconds, and a top speed of 81mph. Fully charging the battery takes six hours via a 220V outlet and a mere 25 minutes in fast-charge mode, giving the EV an 86-mile maximum range. The inlet for the 220V supply is found under a flap in the front grille, and the fast-charge inlet is located where the fuel intake exists on regular models. Through its navigation system the Ray EV can locate recharging stations, of which there are currently 500 in the country.
Korea plan to increase this number to 3,100 before 2013. The system also displays an area over a map to indicate how far the vehicle can travel with its current battery power. The Ray EV boasts a new type of regenerative braking system that harvests excess braking energy to recharge its battery and provide a consistent brake pedal force under a variety of driving conditions. The EV also comes with a Virtual Engine Sound System, which emits recorded gas-engine noises when travelling less than 12mph and when reversing, six air-bags, and electronic stability features.
Kia has not indicated whether they intend to export the Ray EV or how much they intend to sell it for. Most likely it will be used to gauge public opinion and gather performance data to aid its development of future EVs.