• Oct 1, 2010
Kia Pop Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Kia Pop Concept is a slick little wedge of silver that the company calls "a striking vision of future urban electric transport" meant "to act as a loose nucleus, a wild atom." In case you're wondering about the styling, you can't compare it to anything you might see today. Kia design chief Peter Schreyer says it "looks even further into the future" than even the next generation of vehicles, which means we can look forward to guppy faces and oblong windows.

The face is actually referred to as "Kia's trademark 'tiger nose,'" and the sweeping, uninterrupted glass above it is a tidy feature. The three-person, "non-automotive" seating is meant to provide perfect vision for the driver and passengers, with a swoopy front bench curved to allow a third seat set at an oblique angle in the rear corner.

The future theme goes minimalist with just one button in the cabin and everything else controlled by the touch screens on the Transparent Organic LED displays. LIthium polymer gel batteries keep the juice flowing throughout, pumping atoms to a 50-kW electric motor good for a 100-mile range and a healthy top speed of 87 miles per hour. You'll find more details on it after the jump, and a look at its futuristic bits in the gallery of high-res photos below.

Photos copyright ©2010 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL
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"A concept car like the POP could only have come from us," explains Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe's Chief Designer, "designers from other companies regularly approach me at motor shows and say 'I would never even be allowed to try and carry that one off' and it's great to be in a position to operate with such freedom."

Being given its world debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show the Kia POP is a striking vision of future urban electric transport created by the company's European Design Centre in Frankfurt led by Guillaume under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Chief Design Officer.

"The POP fits in perfectly with our 'challenger brand' ethos," Guillaume continues; "We're trying to stir things up in the automotive world, to surprise people even more. We wanted this car to act as a loose nucleus, a wild atom."

And the chrome-coloured, three-metre-long three-seater with an electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors certainly does surprise. Compared to electric-car concepts that have gone before, the POP does indeed appear to start from a very different place.

Peter Schreyer adds; "The POP doesn't point at the style of the next generation of cars, but looks even further into the future. There are a lot of new things, for example the side-window graphic is like a signature, unique with its own character."

Schreyer particularly points out the striking side-window design, the high-tech feel of the dot-pattern grille and taillights, the full-length glass roof, and the simplistic, clean look of the wheels – all pointing, he says, to inspiration derived from outside the usual automotive spheres.

"Many of the things that influenced this design were non-automotive," Guillaume explains. "We were looking at lightweight, aerodynamic things, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. We realised that the automotive world wasn't inspiring us to achieve what we wanted to achieve."

The Frenchman enthusiastically describes how the heads of the front passengers are perfectly positioned at the centre of the windows' top ellipses; how at night the grille allows Kia's trademark 'tiger nose' to illuminate the darkness; and how the protrusions at the bottom corners of the doors are actually rear-view cameras that relay images to small screens in the cabin.

He continues; "The inside and outside were always designed together. From the start we looked at the seating on that very short footprint and tried to ensure that passengers would have a perfect view, just like in a helicopter.

"The seats are designed to be non-automotive. They're very pure, very simple, almost furniture-like. The front bench is sculpted, with interesting, flowing lines and, because it's an electric car without a conventional engine, we were able to push the firewall far forward," he explains.

The rear seat is positioned at an offset angle facing out from the rear passenger side across the cabin to the driver-side A pillar. It's a two-part affair with a base that flips up when not in use and a back and headrest integrated into the headlining. The resultant legroom is quite remarkable in a 1,740mm-wide car with a wheelbase of just 2,055mm.

Guillaume explains the purple colour scheme; "We wanted just one colour in order to create a calm and peaceful environment. There's such a clean feel inside. When we were working on it, we came across an image of a space ship cabin and it was so clean and capsule-like – like a cocoon – that was a big influence."

On the subject of space travel, the POP has two more interior features that wouldn't look out of place on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. On a small piece of plexi-glass in front of the steering wheel sits a Transparent Organic LED (TOLED) display that shows a speedometer, battery charge gauge and the other main readouts when the car is running, but is otherwise totally transparent.

"We thought that there was a lot that could be done with the driver's main points of contact with the car – a chance to be visionary. The TOLED has many advantages over the current generation of head-up displays, principally that it doesn't require a projector that takes up space and weighs a lot. This, we believe, is the future," Guillaume adds.

Guillaume is also enthusiastic about the secondary control displays; "You get so used to designers trying to make things look overly 'techy', with lots of buttons and switches. But in the POP there is only one button. Everything else - audio, sat-nav, climate control and so on - is controlled via the animated touch screen and the dot animation creates a warm feel for the driver."

Thanks to its striking overall look and intriguing individual features, it's easy to forget that the POP is also in fact a fully-electric, zero-emissions vehicle with a 50kW, 190Nm motor and a single-charge range of 160km. It's powered by highly efficient, compact lithium polymer gel batteries and is fully rechargeable in just six hours.

Guillaume concludes; "You know, I have this vision in my head of a POP sat at the lights at a busy Paris intersection with all these Vespa riders waiting alongside, noisily revving their engines. Then, when the lights go green, the POP just serenely moves off without a sound."

Technical Specification:
In cooperation with LG Chem, Kia POP uses the latest lithium polymer gel battery technology, offering the same power performance as a lithium ion battery, but with a 20% reduction in battery size and reduced manufacturing complexity.

Type / capacity: Electric motor with lithium polymer gel battery / 18 kWh
Power/torque: 68 ps (50 kW) / 190 Nm
CO2 Emissions: 0 g/km at tailpipe

Dimensions (mm)
Overall length: 3000
Overall width: 1740 (excluding door mirrors)
Overall height: 1490
Wheelbase: 2055

Top speed (km/h): 140
Range (km): 160
Charging time: 6 hours (230V) or 30 minutes (high voltage)

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Angry Bob
      • 3 Years Ago
      If this guy actually went into production at an affordable cost, < 15K, it would be the next Beetle. Leave the family 4-door and home and commute electrically. I predict a winner here.
      Mark Saxton
      • 4 Years Ago
      ...no info on posssible costs, safety, cost of fuel (electicity + Gas ) efficiency...just a dolled-up pic....no infuence/incentive to buy.......
      • 4 Years Ago
      My 2006 is a Honda Civic CoupeEX
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm 65 yrs. old and have MS. I'd never be able to get into or out of it. It's certainly not for the elderly.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It looks like auto designers are going the same route as dress designers. They will create an outragous design to get attention whether it is practical and people would actually be interested in it or not.
      Steve Johnson
      • 4 Years Ago
      That car reminds me of some of the weird customs Hollywood and New York models wear down the runway at a fasion shows If I had to describe that "thing", the term "Bird Turd" comes to mind. KIA should make a truck version to use as a golf cart. And, it's so tiny, they should change its name to the Roadkill, as it would be a death trap on the highway.
      jeanie w
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow..a simple front end collision would annialate this little piece of tin. AND all those windows would explode and everyone in the car might be cut to shreds...unless they are already crushed by the accident..I'll keep my Blazer, thankyouverymuch! This little car is a death trap!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @jeanie w
        Yes it is. For as long as all the hillbillies are committed to their monster trucks it is.
      • 4 Years Ago

      Social commentary: I think people in general will be friendlier and kinder to each other on the roads while driving these types of vehicles.

      In my estimation driving these mini / urban EV's should garner the opposite effect when putting people way way up high in 5,500 pound gas guzzler, queen of the mall, SUV's.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like this odd looking cars, they are good fun.
      • 4 Years Ago
      there is something to be said for excessive education verses common sense.I thought KIA was on the right track with most of thier designs,what I think they are lacking (at least in terms of americans) we like a comfortable car that performs and looks good for years to come.My example would be the 65 Mustang or the 70 Chevelle,75 ford LTD.I wonder 20 years from now how many people are going to be solving the problem of how do we recycle this thing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kia makes a great car. This just shows their vision of the future of urban vehicles. It won't actually be produced anytime soon. www.billdodgeautogroup.com
      • 4 Years Ago
      damn, thats one ugly a** car
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