Kia Ray PHEV concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

The time has come to move on from teaser images; Kia has finally pulled the covers off its new plug-in hybrid concept. As this is being written ahead of the official unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show, we know a few more details about the concept, but we are still largely in the dark about the technical nitty gritty. The Ray rides on the same 106.3 inch wheelbase as the Hyundai Blue-Will PHEV concept but the overall length is four inches greater.

The Kia design team under Peter Schreyer has put a lot of emphasis on the aerodynamics of this concept, giving it a longer tail and, thanks to a roof that's four inches lower, a smaller frontal area than the earlier Hyundai concept. The aero number will also benefit from narrower tires, with the Kia rolling on 195/50R20 tires compared to the 245/40R20 rubber on the Hyundai.

The debut of the Ray also marks the launch of Kia's new green sub-brand, EcoDynamics. Like Volkswagen's BlueMotion and Ford's Econetic, EcoDynamics will denote the most efficient variants of Kia's model line. We can expect to see the new badge showing up on Kia's in the near future.

Learn more about the powertrain after the jump.

Live photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Kia]

Like the Hyundai Blue-Will concept, the Kia uses a direct injected inline-four in combination with a continuously variable transmission. The Kia, however, uses a smaller 1.4-liter unit although it does make one horsepower more than the 1.6 liter in the Hyundai. The Ray also has a smaller 78-kilowatt electric motor compared to the 100-kilowatt unit in the earlier car.

Both cars use a lithium ion polymer battery pack of unannounced capacity. Like the unit in the upcoming Sonata hybrid this is almost certainly provided by LG Chem. Kia spokesman Alex Fedorak acknowledged that there are key differences between the Kia and Hyundai powertrains, but at this time we don't know if they extend beyond size and capacity. We'll be following up with Kia experts at the show.

As General Motors was developing the production version of the Volt, the design staff realized the importance of aerodynamics to vehicle range even at relatively low speeds. The Kia design team apparently to this heart with the Ray as it cleaner shape no doubt contributes at least in part to the expected 50-mile electric range, 25-percent greater than the Blue-Will.

The Ray's range is no doubt also assisted by reduced parasitic losses thanks to items like specially coated glass that helps keep the interior cooler when sitting in the sun and roof-top photovoltaic cells that help power the climate control system. On the inside, an Infinity Greenedge audio system features more efficient speakers and amplifiers that require less power to produce the same sound levels.

The bottom line is that Kia claims 202.3 mpg equivalent when driving in electric only mode and 77.6 mpg when running in hybrid mode. The 746 mile driving range will easily exceed all but the toughest bladders. According to Fedorak, "Hybrids are in Kia's immediate future but I'm not sure about plans for PHEV." A Forte hybrid was recently launched in Korea so that model is a possibility, as is a hybrid version of the mid-sized Cadenza when it arrives in North America next year.



Ray Design Demonstrates Kia Motors' EcoDynamics Philosophy

* Kia Ray features aerodynamic design, innovative technology and plug-in hybrid capabilities
* Kia Ray utilizes roof top "cool-glazing" solar glass and a has a range of up to 746 miles

CHICAGO, February 10, 2010 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the Ray Plug-in Hybrid concept during a press conference at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show, advancing momentum of Kia Motors' global alternative fuel and powertrain research program, and its sub-brand coined "EcoDynamics," to develop innovative fuel-stretching and emissions-cutting technologies. The most efficient Kia vehicles with significant fuel consumption and emission reductions developed under the EcoDynamics sub-brand will be identified with the EcoDynamics badge. Recently, the EcoDynamics sub-brand took a major step forward with the introduction of the Kia Borrego Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) followed by the Forte LPI Hybrid, the gasoline Kia cee'd Hybrid and the twin-turbo diesel Kia Sorento Hybrid.

As the world looks for more efficient vehicle designs that combine sophisticated and sleek lines with functionality and fuel economy, the Kia Ray concept is a bold new collaboration between design and engineering and inventively showcases a futuristic four-seat compact sedan based on the Kia Forte platform and demonstrates a prospective plug-in hybrid vehicle configuration from Kia. Designed with lightweight and recycled materials, as well as hexagonal roof-top solar cells embedded in the glass roof panel that power extra lighting or climate control systems, the Kia Ray is the fifth vehicle from the Irvine Calif.-based Kia Design Center America (KDCA) to be revealed in the last year. The latest design from KDCA follows award-winning Kia vehicles Soul, Forte, Forte Koup and the all-new 2011 Sorento CUV.

"It is important to imagine what people will want in the future from a green perspective early in the design process, because people want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies," said Peter Schreyer, chief design officer, Kia Motors Corporation. "Being green doesn't have to be an obvious statement anymore and the Kia Ray exemplifies a viable blend of modern, eco-minded features for today's environmentally conscious consumers."

The stylish, aerodynamic Ray combines design and engineering for maximum efficiency, incorporating clean, flush surfaces minimizing any unneeded edges, a flowing profile and pronounced rear shoulder ending in a slightly high deck lid for reduced drag, touch-screen controls, drive-by-wire steering, "cool-glazing" solar glass and a lithium-polymer battery – all possible indicators of future technology from Kia. As a plug-in hybrid, Ray is 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.

As part of Kia Motors' EcoDynamics sub-brand, the Ray concept demonstrates a unique vision for eye-catching vehicles with the goal of reducing environmental footprints. Kia models will carry the EcoDynamics badge as they are progressively introduced, and are designed to deliver significant environmental benefits, these vehicles also will retain a sporty design, fun-to-drive performance and a strong appeal for the young-at-heart.

Striking Aircraft-Inspired Exterior Design

EcoDynamics is the overarching design philosophy applied to make the Kia Ray concept efficiently functional and striking in appearance. A lowered mono-volume shape and a strong, curvaceous silhouette gives the Kia Ray concept better aerodynamic properties than taller profile hybrid vehicles. Strong and lightweight materials are used to support the EcoDynamics philosophy starting with a tabbed LED Kia badge covered with a single piece of glass that extends over the hood and another piece of glass that extends from the cowl of the windshield to the rear header to offer occupants a spacious, airy feeling. An illuminated battery charge indicator display is hood-mounted, furthering the Kia Ray concept's futuristic design. A tapering greenhouse cabin and a longer "tail" improve aerodynamics while reduction of drag is attained through a one-piece, smooth-as-glass, integrated underbody panel, narrow tire width and flush wheel design. Front driving lamps slide back to create openings for better air intake when the gasoline engine is being used and a sliding U-shaped deck-lid extends from the rear of the vehicle at higher speeds for improved coefficient of drag. In lieu of side-view mirrors and door handles, motion-detector cameras are mounted flush with the body for safe lane changing procedures and opening of doors. The result is an airframe on wheels. The front door opening features a forward cutout design for the feet allowing ease of entry. The rear door lines are very purposeful with rear-hinged coach doors, yet stylish because their height and shape improves ingress and egress.

The Ray employs new "cool car" technology, including nano-laminate films and cool-glazing materials applied to the concept to dramatically reduce solar heat and demonstrate how keeping the interior cool will reduce air conditioning loads and greenhouse emissions. When the vehicle is parked in the sun, the solar cells provide a trickle charge that helps operate a cooling fan to reduce interior temperatures.

Light and Airy Interior

Using the natural element of air as the design focus to convey feelings of pure, lightweight, breathable and refreshing, Ray's interior is comprised of eco-friendly recycled materials in cool white tones to offer the passengers a sense of purity while also reflecting the heat of the sun, keeping the temperature down and reducing the use of air conditioner energy. Front and rear seats, mounted on side sills, create a floating effect with hollowed out elastomeric materials to support body weight, also made of lightweight composite materials.

Fresh and sustainable materials like wool flooring unite to create a simple yet sophisticated and comfortable cabin, with a lightweight touch screen instrument layout featuring touch screen push-button start and gear shift toggle. The center stack features the all-new Kia UVO powered by Microsoft® advanced infotainment system, which provides users with friendly voice- and touch-activated controls for simple management of music files and hands-free mobile phone operation.

Adding to the list of green technology features, Ray also employs the all-new GreenEdge™ system by Infinity® Audio, complete with loudspeakers that reduce power consumption and dissipation through lower self heating temperatures with increased acoustic performance, a better synergy between amplifier, speaker and vehicle. The amplifier used also reduces the idle power consumption by 50 percent of current Infinity speakers and employs a lower dissipation design for significant savings in overall weight.

With a focus to reduce overall weight through materials and design, the hexagon/honeycomb shape can be found throughout the cabin, used as a repeated design element while tying the interior theme together. Used also in the door inserts and seats, this lightweight and breathable mesh serves to reduce overall curb weight as well as being a unique design element. Other materials found in the cabin are soft to the touch with a matte finish, including white leather, offering a more luxurious feel while making the interior more inviting and tranquil. The 100-percent earthy mocha wool felt floors add a touch of warmth and also are environmentally friendly by coming from a renewable resource. Adding further to Ray's green characteristics, the floor mats are incorporated into the design of the floor, greatly reducing the amount of material used.

Hybrid Architecture

The Ray Concept is designed to 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. Depending on driving conditions, power is sent to the wheels from the gasoline engine, the electric motor, or both together. The Ray concept is front-wheel drive with a four-wheel independent suspension.

Furthering EcoDynamics innovation, the Ray concept's advanced system is equipped with an engine-power saving alternator management system and a toggle gear-shift up/down indicator to encourage economical driving. Custom-designed low-rolling resistance with a hexagon pattern, narrow 20-inch (195/50R20) tires also improve Ray's efficiency.

About Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 670 dealers throughout the United States. For 2009, KMA recorded its 15th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share and recently achieved its best quarter of sales ever. Kia Motors subscribes to a philosophy of building high value, high quality, safe and dynamic vehicles. Kia Motors prides itself on producing vehicles that are exciting and enabling and evoke the Kia tagline "The Power to Surprise."

Kia Motors America is the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA." Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its Web site – For media information, including photography, visit


Length 173.2 inches / 4,400 mm
Width 72.8 inches / 1,850 mm
Height 53.5 inches / 1,360 mm
Wheelbase 106.3 inches / 2,700 mm
Tires 195/50 R20 low-rolling resistance
Engine 1.4-liter Gamma 153-hp GDI engine /

78kw electric motor

Transmission CVT/ fixed ratio
Batteries Lithium-ion polymer
Top Speed 109 mph
Fuel Economy

(Pure HEV Mode)

77.6 mpg
Fuel Economy

(Plug-in HEV Mode)

202.3 mpg
Vehicle Range 746 miles
Cd 0.25
Steering By-wire

Share This Photo X