Chicago 2010: Kia Ray Plug-In Hybrid Concept Debuts; Kia Announces “Alternative Energy” Model On the Way

Kia is working to infuse all of its vehicles with passion, even hybrids. Over the past year Kia launched the exciting Forte Koup, along with a related motorsports program and more recently it advertised during the SuperBowl for the first time with an edgy commercial featuring the all-new Sorento and a bucnh of life size toys – two of which made an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show. And so if Kia can make a mid-sized crossover seem fun, why not a hybrid?

Using Kia’s new Eco Dynamics philosophy, the company’s design team set out to make concept car that would reduce a person’s carbon footprint, while not being a carbon copy – hinting at the obvious fact that all hybrids tend to look the same. The result is the Ray plug-in hybrid concept. And as wild as it looks, Kia’s VP of Marketing Michael Sprague said it’s closer than you can imagine, announcing that later this year the automaker would deliver its first “alternative energy” production model. Sprague did not clarify if it would be a hybrid, but it will likely be a hybrid version of the Optima/Magentis model, following Hyundai’s release of the hybrid Sonata.

Kia didn’t release any info on the Ray, ignoring things like miles per gallon, recharging times and horsepower. Instead it focused on the Ray’s design with plenty of glass, light weight seats, solar panels on the roof, a full covered underbody and a rear spoiler than elongates at speed to recude drag on the vehicle thereby making it more efficient.

GALLERY: Kia Ray Plug-In Hybrid Concept