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Kia Ray: Plug-in hybrid concept promises 202mpg

Kia has sidestepped the motoring industry's long-standing tradition of giving cars cool names, by dubbing its latest effort -- a plug-in hybrid -- Ray


Car makers usually try to give their cars impressive-sounding names -- Dodge had the Swinger and the Viper, Shelby had the Cobra and Ferrari blessed us with the uber-manly Testarossa. Kia, however, doesn't seem to give a monkey's about any of that and has gone ahead and given its latest concept car -- a plug-in hybrid -- the decidedly average moniker Ray.

Luckily, the vehicle isn't as dull as it might sound. Its lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged via the mains to power its 78kW electric motor for up to 50 miles of emissions-free driving. When working in tandem with its 1.4-litre 153hp GDI engine, Kia claims Ray will achieve the equivalent maximum theoretical fuel economy of 202.3 miles per gallon. Plus these are American gallons we're talking about, so it'll be an even more impressive 243 UK mpg if it turns out to be true.

So what manner of trickery is this? The computer-simulated kind, mostly. Kia's UK press-relations team told us the company's foremost boffins calculated this 'best case' mileage scenario based on a combination of battery-only driving, regular top-ups from the regenerative braking system, and there being absolutely zero headwinds. Or traffic. Or the need to get anywhere in a hurry. You'll get nowhere near 200mpg in London, but if you live on the Bonneville Salt Flats, you're laughing.

Ray employs a bunch of other clever technologies to reach his its audaciously optimistic fuel-economy figures. Kia's swapped wing mirrors for motion-detector cameras mounted flush with the body of the car, fitted low rolling-resistance tyres and implemented a U-shaped deck lid (like a tongue, sticking out from the boot) to improve the car's drag coefficient at higher speeds.

There's more, too. Ray's roof features an array of hexagonal solar cells to power the cabin lights or climate-control systems. The car also features an eco-friendly stereo system from Infinity Audio, which consumes less power and weighs less than many of its rivals.

Obiously, Ray is still is in the concept stage, but we fully intend to pop along to Kia's stand at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show to see how he and his friends Dave, Katie and Parbinder are coming along. Until then, happy driving, green car fans.