Kia to Revive Its Fully Electric Mini-car for Entry-Level EV Buyers

August 28, 2023 11:33:36

Electric vehicle maker Kia is poised to revive South Korea’s first-ever battery electric car, the Ray EV, in September to meet market demand for cheaper electric cars. Although a large portion of drivers have reported interest in switching to electric cars, the high premiums associated with EVs make them too costly for many consumers.

The entry-level Ray EV will be affordable enough for this growing market and could help accelerate electric vehicle adoption in South Korea. Kia first introduced the mini electric car in late 2011 as the first all-electric production car in South Korea.

With a small 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 50 kW electric motor, the Ray EV had 86 miles of range on a single charge, making it ideal for domestic city travel rather than long trips. Comparatively, many modern electric vehicle models can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge, significantly farther than the Ray EV.

Like every other EV model, the Ray EV has 77% more torque than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and faster acceleration of 0-60 mph in 15.9 seconds. Ray EV drivers also had the option of fast charging in only 25 minutes or slow charging using a 220 charger over six hours. However, Kia released the Ray EV while the electric vehicle sector was still in its infancy and ultimately discontinued it because of critical issues such as limited range and insufficient public-charging infrastructure in the region.

Reviving the Ray EV will allow Kia to target the affordable EV market, which likely comprises a large majority of EV drivers. The modern version of the Ray EV will have double the range at 120 miles and a 63.3 kW electric motor compared to 50 kW in the previous model. Kia will also equip the modern model with a 35.2 kWh battery pack, almost double the previous iteration, to grant the EV more range.

An official from the South Korean carmaker said that the new Ray EV will increase options for entry-level electric cars with a range of more than 124 miles, roomy interiors and efficient driving performance. Kia will later introduce a single-seater van version of the Ray EV for the self-employed and small business owner market.

Industry experts in South Korea predict that the new Ray EV could be instrumental in revitalizing the country’s mini-vehicle segment, especially now that demand for small and affordable electric vehicles is expanding.

As more manufacturers bring to market mini-cars targeting entry-level buyers and company such as QuantumScape Corp. (NYSE: QS) make significant strides in improving battery technology, the convergence of all these efforts could accelerate the rate at which electric vehicles replace ICE vehicles.

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