Mike Stevens | Feb 11, 2010

FOLLOWING A pair of teaser images issued last week, Kia has today unveiled the Kia Ray PHEV hybrid concept at the Chicago Auto Show.

Built on the same platform underpinning the Hyundai Blue-Will PHEV, the Kia Ray has been designed with an emphasis on aerodynamics - although a specific drag coefficient figure has not been revealed.

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The unveiling of the Ray marks the launch of its EcoDynamics sub-brand. Like Volkswagen's BlueMotion, Ford's Econetic and Volvo's DRIVe, only the most efficient Kia models will bear the EcoDynamics name.

"It is important to imagine what people will want in the future from a green perspective early in the design process, because people want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies," Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer said.

"Being green doesn't have to be an obvious statement anymore and the Kia Ray exemplifies a viable blend of modern, eco-minded features for today's environmentally conscious consumers."

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Like the Hyundai Blue-Will, the Ray is powered by a direct injected inline-four combined with an electric motor.

Specifically, the Ray draws power from an all-aluminium 1.4 litre GDI (Gasoline Direct Injected) engine developing 115kW. Mated to the petrol engine is a 78kW electric motor and a permanently-engaged fixed ratio CVT transmission.

Depending on driving conditions, power is sent to the wheels from the gasoline engine, the electric motor, or both together. The Ray concept is front-wheel drive with a four-wheel independent suspension.

Fuel economy is a low 3.0 l/100km in hybrid mode, and an equivalent 1.1 l/100km in pure electric mode.

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Another EcoDynamics feature is the Ray's power-saving alternator management system and a toggle gear-shift up/down indicator to encourage economical driving.

Low-resistance, hexagon-patterned 20-inch 195/50R20 tyres further the Ray's eco-conscious philosophy.

Like the Blue-Will, the Ray is little more than a concept indicating the direction of Hyundai-Kia's hybrid plans, and neither model is planned for production.

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