Feb 12 2010 Maurice Glover
Kia plugs in to hybrid
NEXT-GENERATION cars from Kia will feature a raft of advanced technology equipment aimed at raising the benchmark in family motoring.
Boffins at the South Korean firm are working on drive-by-wire steering, controls that operate via touching a dashboard display, 'cool-glazing' solar glass and lithium-polymer batteries.
The lid was lifted on their research into the cars of tomorrow when Ray, a plug-in hybrid designed to cover distances of more than 50 miles on a single charge, was revealed at the Chigaco auto show.
Styled as a four seat compact saloon, the concept highlights Kia's innovative fuel-stretching and emissions-cutting technologies with an economy rating of more than 202mpg and a range of 746 miles.
Built from lightweight and recycled materials, the car's design features a tapering greenhouse cabin and a longer 'tail' to improve aerodynamics, while reduced drag is attained through a one-piece integrated underbody panel, narrow tyres and flush wheels.
The front headlamps slide back to create openings for better air intake when the 1.4-litre petrol engine is in use and a sliding U-shaped deck-lid extends from the rear of the vehicle at higher speeds for improved coefficient of drag.
Instead of side-view mirrors and door handles, motion-detector cameras are mounted flush with the body for safe lane changing procedures and opening of doors.
Says Kia's chief design officer Peter Schreyer: ''It is important to imagine early in the design process what people will want in the future from a green perspective. People want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies. Being green doesn't have to be an obvious statement anymore."
The engine of the Ray is mated with continuously variable transmission and an electric motor. Depending on driving conditions, power is sent to the front wheels from the engine, the electric motor, or both together. Top speed is 109mph.