|The Ray EV. Click to enlarge.|
Kia Motors has introduced Korea’s first production electric vehicle from a major manufacturer. At the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this year, Yang Woong-chul, vice president of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, said that within the group, Kia will focus on electric cars, while Hyundai will work on plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The new Kia Ray EV is an electric city car with a range of up to 139 km (86 miles) on a single charge. For supply exclusively to the domestic Korean market, the Kia Ray EV is a close relative of Kia’s 1.0-liter gasoline powered Ray CUV, which went on sale in Korea last month. It shares that model’s major dimensions and can share a production line with conventional combustion-engine cars.
The front-wheel drive Ray EV is powered by a 50 kW electric motor and a high-capacity 330V, 16.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that is engineered for a 10-year life cycle and packaged under the rear seat and cabin floor.
Although the Ray EV weighs 187 kg more than the gasoline model, the electric motor’s generous torque—167 N·m (123 lb-ft), an increase of 77%—ensures responsive performance. The EV’s acceleration is brisker than the gasoline model’s (0-to-100 kph in 15.9 seconds), while top speed is 130 km/h (81 mph). Recharging times are six hours using a 220V household supply and 25 minutes in fast-charge mode.
The Ray EV’s automatic transmission offers the driver a choice of two modes while in ‘D’ drive. ‘E’ (or ‘eco’) mode optimizes the delivery of the motor’s torque to achieve minimum battery consumption and maximum driving range. ‘B’ (or ‘brake’) mode can be selected when driving downhill on highways and on mountain roads to maximize braking power.
Bearing the same exterior styling as its gasoline cousin, the Kia Ray EV has four small distinguishing points. A flap in the front radiator grille covers an electricity inlet for a 220V supply for the slow recharge mode; another inlet (for the fast recharge mode) is fitted in the same location as the fuel intake of the regular models; special decals on each front door proclaim the ‘Zero Emissions EV’ message; and 14-inch alloy wheels improve aerodynamic performance by minimizing drag.
Inside, the Ray EV instrument cluster displays electric motor operation, battery status and distance to recharge. It is also equipped with an EV-specific navigation system that features a 7-inch screen and provides information for EV drivers such as the nearest locations of the slow/fast recharging stations. The display shows a circular shaped area in which the model can travel with its current level of battery power, so that drivers can see which destinations are reachable without a recharge.
Currently there are 500 slow/fast recharge stations in Korea, and the government plans to increase that figure to 3,100 stations by the end of 2012.
The on-board charger, current inverter, high-low voltage converter and EV-specific VCU (vehicle control unit) each features advances over previous equipment.
Ray EV is also equipped with a new type of regenerative braking system featuring an Active Hydraulic Booster that utilizes the electric motor, instead of the gasoline engine in the regular model, to create hydraulic pressure for the brake system. The result is consistent brake pedal force throughout a wide variety of driving conditions and the ability to harvest excess energy and use it to recharge the car’s battery.
To prevent accidents, Kia has fitted Ray EV with a VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System). When driven at speeds below 20 kph (12 mph) this system delivers a mixture of recorded gasoline engine noises, which are also emitted whenever the car is backing up.
The Ray EV is equipped with six air-bags, and electronic stability features— VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) and HAC (Hill Assist Control, to prevent roll-back)—as standard.
During 2012, Kia is planning to manufacture 2,500 units of the Ray EV, which will be provided to government departments and public offices as part of Kia’s long-term real-world research and development program.