It isn’t often we see cars here that were never meant to drive on our shores. But Kia Motors decided to bring over its Naimo concept that debuted at last May’s Seoul auto show and 2012 Kia Ray EV micro car not to show us the U.S. needs more 60-horsepower subcompacts. Rather, they’re at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show to preview upcoming telematics technology, including the ability to recognize faces and Kia’s first foray into making an all-electric car.
With the Naimo, Kia is focusing on its user-centered driving center, foregoing a traditional set of gauges for a head-up projection display on the windshield. In addition, Kia has upped the ante with its UVO system in the Naimo, expanding its horizontal width from 4.3 inches to 12.3 inches, allowing the driver to swipe and flick the screen instead of blunt finger pressure with the existing production unit.
The Naimo also uses a high-intensity airstream instead of traditional windshield wipers, can travel up to 124 miles on a single electric charge, and makes 107 horsepower.
However, it’s not in production — unlike the 2012 Kia Ray EV. Perhaps too small for U.S. consumption, the 67-horsepower electric Ray is already on sale in South Korea. In its current form with a 16.4 kilowatt-hour electric battery pack, the Kia Ray is capable of driving 86 miles between recharging. Although typical charging times to get to 100 percent are around six hours, the Ray can fully recharge in 25 minutes with its 220-volt quick charger. Kia expects the battery pack to have a 10-year life before needing replacement.
“With the Kia Ray, which is Korea’s first production electric vehicle, and the Naimo concept’s forward-thinking UCD telematics, Kia is demonstrating leadership in the area of advanced technology development as our global R&D team pursues the goal of taking the vehicle-driver relationship to new levels with facial recognition technology and a number of interactive features,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, in a statement. “Where the Naimo EV concept looks into the future of zero-emissions vehicles from Kia, the Ray EV is the first realization for the brand and represents exciting new possibilities for the future in the North American market.”