Increasingly a front runner in the world of automotive industry, with producers including Hyundai, Ssangyong and Kia, South Korea is yet to manufacture an electric vehicle despite its technological prowess. This looks set to change in the New Year, however.
Kia has announced it will begin limited domestic manufacturing of its new Ray EV car in 2012, with a full general release expected for 2014. This is a vehicle that achieves an awful lot for a fully electric car. It can do up to 86 miles off a single charge and can achieve a speed of up to 60 miles per hour in about 15 seconds, with a top speed of 81 miles per hour. And it generates a fairly hefty torque of 167Nm to boot. This compares favourably to the petrol version of this vehicle, given the electric model produces faster acceleration.
It’s powered by a 50 kilowatt electric motor and a high capacity lithium ion polymer battery which has a 10-year life-cycle. According to Kia, it achieves 93 per cent efficiency, the best in its class. It has also been highly integrated, meaning its weight has been reduced by more than 10 per cent compared to similar vehicles of competitors.
Eco or Brake Mode
The battery is stowed away under the back seat, meaning there is little evidence of this electric car’s extra bulk. The automatic transmission cleverly affords greater battery savings. It features an ‘E’ mode, or eco mode, which maximises the delivery of torque to the vehicle, which in turn get every last drop of energy out of one charge. Plus there is a ‘B’ mode, or brake mode, used for downhill motorway driving to get the most braking power.
Battery Life Displayed
Inside, the Kia Ray EV is fine tuned to keep the driver informed about how much life the battery has left and what to do about it if the answer is not much. Like most electric vehicles, it displays the battery life remaining and the distance it can do until the next recharge. But what is really impressive here is that it features an EV-specific navigation system, the first of its kind ever, which gives invaluable information, including the location and directions to the nearest recharging station.
Another handy feature is a map which shows a shaded area which represents the distance within which the vehicle can travel without needing a further recharge, which really helps when planning ahead, especially when it comes to getting the most out of the battery.
Virtual Engine Sound
In Europe and North America, electric vehicles are facing the possible introduction of legislation designed to protect pedestrians, given the spate of accidents caused because these vehicles, which are essentially noiseless. They cannot be heard like petrol vehicles. The Kia Ray EV has already gone ahead and introduced a virtual engine sound at speeds below 12mph to warn pedestrians.
When should we expect it in Europe?
In terms of production line efficiency, it is also a leader. Kia is producing this vehicle alongside its petrol-consuming cousin, which is unheard of in the industry. The Kia Ray EV therefore looks to be a groundbreaker. Now, it’s just a question of when it will make it to Europe.