2024.02.20 Kia

The Kia Ray EV: Your Lightweight Urban Companion

Kia’s iconic city car, the ‘The Kia Ray EV’, is back with a fresh look, ready to conquer the bustling streets of Seoul. Its versatility in urban environments is simply unparalleled.

Celebrating its 13th birthday this year, the Kia Ray still looks as charming as ever. Its cute exterior and refreshed design defy its age. With its unbeatable economy and utility, the Ray continues to charm us with its unique appeal. We took the newly updated Ray EV for a spin, now equipped with the latest EV powertrain and a wide range of convenience features. Navigating through the complex urban landscape of Seoul, the Ray EV impresses with its practicality and smile-inducing capabilities.

Last September, the Ray underwent a significant upgrade, boasting a more modern design. The new Ray EV inherits this design evolution seamlessly. The front fascia features ‘Star Map Signature Lighting’ and a neatly arranged center garnish, evolving into Kia’s unique tiger face.

The Ray EV’s transformation as an electrified model is evident. The front grille is elegantly sealed, centering the Kia brand logo and charging port. Larger headlights and a smoother front profile make it a standout even in traffic-congested urban jungles.

The rear end also maintains its freshness with its new design. The tail lights, in particular, captivate with their Star Map Signature Lighting, projecting a futuristic vibe. Despite its compact size, the Ray boasts a confident stance thanks to horizontal styling lines. The attention to detail, including a cleverly hidden tailgate handle, elevates the design sophistication.

Driving the Ray EV through Seoul’s complex streets was a breeze. While passing through wide highways and narrow alleyways, its compact size eliminated any sense of hardship in the bustling city - and the performance of its electric motor was exceptional.

The Ray EV’s drive motor delivers a peak output of 64.3kW (about 87PS) and a maximum torque of 147Nm, significantly surpassing its gasoline model counterpart. The acceleration is brisk, typical of electric vehicles, and the absence of gear shifts ensures a smooth ride throughout.

The sufficient power output easily overcomes the limitations of a small car. Changing lanes or merging onto highways is a piece of cake. Thanks to the battery placement at the bottom, the vehicle’s center of gravity is lower, ensuring stable handling during turns. This combination of lively acceleration and stable cornering brings joy to the driver, reminding us that high power isn’t always necessary for driving pleasure.

The Ray’s spacious interior remains one of its key attractions. The Ray EV maintains this spaciousness without compromise. Today’s highlight is the Ray EV’s two-seater van version, turning the entire rear seat area into cargo space. The Ray EV van features a partition between the cabin and trunk, and a safety bar on the rear window allows for the transportation of bulky cargos without damaging the vehicle.

The Ray EV’s expansive cargo space highlights its versatility as a Purpose-Built Vehicle (PBV). The boxy body shape allows for stacking a large amount of cargo, and folding the front seat extends the storage space even further. Its side sliding door and 90° opening front door maintain Ray’s signature appeal, and the large tailgate makes loading and unloading bulky items a breeze.

The driver’s space is just as practical. There are deep storage compartments under the center fascia and additional storage on the passenger side crash pad, perfect for smartphones and small items.

The Ray EV has transformed into a high-tech cockpit. As befits an electrified model, it’s equipped with advanced equipment. The dashboard houses a Supervision Cluster with a 10.25-inch color TFT display, offering excellent visibility and comprehensive information. A column-type electronic shift lever provides intuitive usability, and the spot where the traditional shift lever used to be is now occupied by an electronic parking brake.

In tight alleys, the Ray EV’s small size is a perfect fit. Parking is easy, and its short turning radius is a boon in complex urban environments. The brisk start and acceleration make it agile in traffic-congested areas, and the absence of unpleasant vibrations or noise significantly reduces driver fatigue. Importantly, the Ray EV produces zero carbon emissions while driving, easing the conscience of both driver and pedestrians.

Another remarkable aspect of the Ray EV is its abundant convenience and safety features. Despite being a small electric car, it makes no compromises in safety. Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), and Cruise Control are just a few features that protect and reduce driver fatigue. Heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and other amenities add to its appeal, redefining the standards for small cars.

The Ray EV’s range on a single charge reaches 205km combined, and even further, 233km in urban settings, thanks to its 35.2kWh Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery, more than double the capacity of the previous model. Charging is also convenient. A 150kW fast charger can replenish the battery from 10% to 80% in about 40 minutes, making it a viable everyday electric vehicle in terms of range and charging capabilities.

However, what really draws attention to the Ray EV is its cost-effectiveness. With an under-cover enhancing its aerodynamic performance, the Ray EV achieves a combined energy efficiency of 5.1km/kWh (based on 14-inch tires). Considering the current electric vehicle charging rates set by the Ministry of Environment (324.4 won/kWh for 50kW), the Ray EV’s fuel cost is about 50% cheaper than its gasoline counterpart. Additionally, as a small electric car, it’s exempt from individual consumption tax, education tax, and acquisition tax. Business owners and corporations can also get a VAT refund.

My journey with the Ray EV reaffirmed the charm of small electric cars. In the narrow and crowded streets of Seoul, it performed admirably, accommodating large luggage with its impressive cargo capacity. Its excellent cost-effectiveness is sure to attract much attention. The versatile Ray EV truly embodies the value of a PBV, from local deliveries to mobile stores. Many look forward to seeing the small, boxy Ray EV play an even more active role in the urban landscape.

Photography by Daeil Choi, Beomseok Kim

HMG Journal Operation Team


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