Archive for February, 2010

Kia Plugs in to Great Concept

Posted in: General, Hybrid cars
19 Feb 2010

kia-rayIn the interest of full disclosure, first let me say that I’ve never been inside of a Kia. In fact, until the Korean-based auto manufacturer introduced the Soul in 2009, I’d never given their cars so much as a passing glance.

So no one was more surprised than I was when the introduction of their new concept hybrid completely stopped me in my tracks.

The Ray, which is making its debut at the Chicago Auto Show right now, shows a promising future for hybrids. While I’m still chomping at the bit to see a sleek and sexy electric car go into mass production (Tesla, are you listening?), hybrids are going to play a major role in our acceptance of non-gasoline-powered autos. And with Ray, Kia shows it is on the right track.

While its eco-friendly design speaks directly to the heart of environmentally conscious consumers, it’s the Ray’s style that is even more surprising. I’m not saying that their previous vehicles have been uninspired, but let’s just say they’ve had a tendency to blend in with the rest of the cars on the road. They began changing that with the Soul, which has given Nissan’s Cube a run for its money, and now they’ve stepped it up to a new level.

Even though it’s a four-seater, Kia’s Ray bears faint resemblance to any of its four-door family sedans. (The lines are clean and flowing; this car looks faster standing still than many of its models look on the road!) Riding low to the ground, it’s curvaceous and aerodynamic, giving a great blend of form and function. Inside, the white interior is designed to reflect the sunlight rather than absorb it, and the eco-friendly recycled materials used within are also designed to keep interior temperatures low and reduce air-conditioner use.

The “green” features on this car are extensive and impressive, going beyond its gas/electric power combination. If there’s a downside at all to this car, it would be that it is only a concept, so we’ll have to wait for this one to go into production. From its solar cell-powered lighting and climate control systems to its “cool car” technology to reduce air conditioning load and greenhouse emissions, the Ray shows a lot of promise.

You just might call it a Ray of hope.

Ditch the Prius; Porsche Unveils Hybrid Racer

Posted in: Hybrid cars, Porsche
12 Feb 2010

porsche-hybridPorsche has given us a lot of reasons to love it over the years. But now, the company is taking that love affair to the next level with the launch of its 911 GT3 racecar.

The new GT3, which boasts a unique hybrid technology created specifically for racing, has two electric motors on the front axle. Unlike hybrid daily drivers, which rely on heavy batteries, the 911 GT3 hybrid has an electrical flywheel power generator that sits next to the driver to deliver energy.

As a racecar, the Porsche 911 boasts an enviable racing pedigree that includes more than 20,000 wins, and the introduction of this hybrid at the Geneva Motor Show next month will open a new chapter for the marque.

Even better for us non-helmet wearing drivers is the hope that this technology will eventually make its way into the road-ready sports cars that we love so dearly. A girl can dream, can’t she?