It’s supremely logical: Korea’s first production EV features the first sat-nav system optimised for electrics, with the ability to point out nearby charging stations as well as a circular overlay showing the car’s available range. The electric version of the recently launched Ray has a range of up to 139 km, a top speed of 130 km/h and a fast-recharge time of just 25 minutes (standard 220 V charging takes 6 hours). Kia says the Korea-only Ray scores another first by being the only EV to date to share a production line with conventional combustion-engine cars. Government agencies are expected to get the 2 500 Ray EVs Kia intends to build in 2012. That effort will be matched by the Korean state’s plans to increase its existing 500 recharge stations 6-fold by the end of the year.
A 50 kW electric motor powered by a 16,4 kWh lithium ion polymer battery pack drives the Ray’s front wheels. With the ability to summon maximum torque (167 N.m, 77 per cent more than the petrol version) from standstill, the electric Ray bounds off the line eagerly despite its 187 kg weight penalty.
The Ray EV comes as standard with 6 airbags and electronic stability control.
Raising the bar. Kia says its Ray EV is packed with innovations. The electric motor efficiency of 93 per cent is said to be best in class; making the li-po battery and its associated electronics more compact has cut weight by 13 per cent and improved energy density by 15 per cent. A new regenerative braking system uses the electric motor to pressurise the hydraulics, provide consistent pedal force and harvest braking energy to recharge the battery. More offbeat, but no less important, other road-users can hear the Ray EV coming thanks to VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System). Under 20 km/h and while reversing, the car emits recorded petrol-engine sounds, pre-empting proposed US and Japanese legislation to enforce a “virtual” sound to warn pedestrians in particular of the otherwise nearly silent car’s approach.