Although both Kia and Hyundai have hybrid vehicles in their respective lineups, Kia is first with a production electric vehicle, the battery electric Kia Ray EV. Based on the new Kia Ray CUV, the Ray EV is built on the same production line as its 1.0-liter gasoline-engined counterpart.
The boxy Ray gives up its fossil fuel drivetrain in exchange for a 50kW electric motor (almost identical to the Mitsubishi I battery electric vehicle) and a high-capacity 16.4 kWh lithium ion polymer battery pack (compared to 16.0 kWh for the i). For the Ray EV, it means faster acceleration than its gasoline equivalent (0 to 100 km/h—62 mph—in a leisurely 15.9 seconds) with a top speed of 81 mph.
Kia says a full recharge on Korean house current (220V) requires six hours while a fast-charge mode takes only 25 minutes. The recharge points are a flap on the grille for 220V charging and under the erstwhile fuel filler door of the gasoline Ray. The polymer battery packs, which can be formed around vehicle contours, are packaged under the floor and the rear seat.
The electric Ray gets a different instrument panel from the regular Ray, featuring displays for electric motor operation, battery status and distance to recharge. Kia claims the Ray EV has the “first-ever EV-specific navigation system”, with a circular shaped area on the nav system’s map that shows the slow/fast charging stations within the vehicle’s remaining range. The Nissan Leaf battery electric vehicle, however, has a similar navigation system display of “reachable” area with available charging stations.
Kia says that the Kia Ray EV has a new type of regenerative braking system: “[A]n Active Hydraulic Booster…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.”
Unlike the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi I, the Kia Ray EV will not be sold on the open market. All 2,500 units of the first year’s production will go to government agencies in Korea “as a part of Kia’s long-term real-world research and development program.”
Kia Ray EV / Technical Specifications
Length 141.4 in.
Width 62.8 in.
Height 66.9 in.
Wheelbase 99.2 in.
Curb weight 2,600 lbs
Electric motor 50 kW
Max power 68 ps Max torque 167 Nm (17.0 g/km)
Power 330V Lithium ion polymer
Capacity 16.4 kWh
Charge time 6.0 hrs (slow) / 25 minutes (fast)
0-to-100 kph 15.9 sec (to 62 mph)
Max speed 130 kph (81 mph)
Max range 139 km (86 miles)