Sam Philip11 February 2010

Ray: soulful

Kia introduces slippery hybrid concept in Chicago. Could this point to a hybrid C’e’ee’e’d? Do you care?

Ray: soulful

Kia has chosen the Chicago Auto Show to unveil a concept tribute to the Genius of High Soul. It is simply called... Ray.

OK, it isn't really a tribute to Ray Charles. The Ray is a hybrid coupe concept that, behind its streamlined, slippery exterior, points to Kia's intention to produce a genuine Prius rival in the next couple of years.

The Ray is powered by a 1.4-litre direct injection petrol engine and a 78kW electric motor fed by a lithium ion battery pack. Within the low-drag body of the Ray - Kia quotes a drag coefficient of just 0.25 - that's apparently good for economy of 202mpg (pinch, salt, etc.) and a range of 750 miles. The Ray is able to travel up to 50 miles on electric power alone.

Despite its coupe-ish shape, the Ray won't be quick: though Kia doesn't quote a 0-60mph time, it does admit a top speed of just 109mph.

There's plenty of clever green tech on board, though. That panoramic glass roof contains hexagonal solar panels, which will top up the battery pack and help cool the cabin.

We've seen those rear-view cameras on concepts a million times before, but we like the sound of the Ray's headlights, which slide back at speed to improve airflow over the front of the car.

They're unlikely to see production for a while, but the Ray's hybrid drivetrain should: we're told Kia is keen to adapt a similar system for use in its current production cars including the C'e'ee'e'd. Excited? No? 

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