The Ray EV is a cute little five-door supermini, but the 1.0-litre petrol engine in the car already on sale in Korea has been replaced by a 50kw electric motor and a reasonable supply of batteries.
Despite these differences it can share a production line with the other small cars currently being pumped out of Kia’s Korean facilities, making it cheaper to produce than it otherwise might be.
It’s also faster than the petrol model, taking a mere 15.9 seconds to hit 62mph, although such frivolous use of the accelerator pedal will dent the potential range. Recharging times are six hours from a 220v domestic supply, or 25 minutes in fast-charge mode.
An initial run of 2,500 units will be built for unspecified government departments in the country, with a view to gaining enough feedback to then refine and improve the technology before launching it worldwide.
According to Kia, Japan and the USA are already considering the introduction of a legal requirement for electric vehicles (EVs) to have a virtual engine sound, and Kia has taken steps to commercialise this system.
When driven at speeds below 20 kph (12 mph), VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) delivers a mixture of recorded gasoline engine noises, which are also emitted whenever the car is backing up.
Customers in Europe can expect to see similar technologies within the next 10 years.