Kia’s unique POP concept showcases future tech

Kia’s unique POP concept showcases future tech

The striking Kia POP concept, just unveiled at the Paris Auto Salon, offers a glimpse of Kia Motors’ take on the future.

The electric-powered, bubble-shaped three-seater has been built to showcase the technology contained within the unusual body. Kia Motors used the Paris show to confirm that its first production electric car will go on sale in late 2011 — it’s tipped to be a small CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle).

Showcasing Kia’s increasing focus on new technologies, the chrome-coloured, three-metre-long, three-seater POP with its electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and butterfly-hinged doors took centre stage on Kia’s Paris Show stand.

Unconventional features of POP include its side-window design, the dot-pattern head and taillights, back-lit front grille, rear-view cameras in each door, full-length glass roof and the unique wheels — all point to inspiration from outside the usual automotive spheres. Designs have taken cues from as areas such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. Some of these design aspects may well be seen in the designs of future Kia vehicles.

Inside, a small piece of plexi-glass sits in front of the steering wheel and shows a Transparent Organic LED display for speed, battery charge and the other main readouts, when the car is running.  At other times it is totally transparent.

To the right of the steering wheel, a sculpted, chrome-look panel features only one button, with every other function (audio, sat-nav, climate control, etc) controlled via an animated touch screen.

The front seat is a sculpted bench, with eye-catching, flowing lines, while the rear seat is positioned at an offset angle, resulting in remarkable legroom for a 1,740 mm wide car with a wheelbase of just 2,055 mm.  Designed to accommodate a single passenger, this seat is a two-part affair, with a base that flips up when not in use and a backrest and a head restraint integrated into the headlining.

Technologically, POP is a fully-electric, zero-emissions car with a 50kW, 190Nm motor, which is powered by compact lithium polymer gel batteries (20% smaller and lighter than normal batteries) and is fully rechargeable in just six hours — a partial quick charge can take just 30 minutes.  Top speed is 140km/h, with a maximum range of 160 km on a single, full charge.

The POP concept was designed by Kia’s European design team under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer, and Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe’s Chief Designer.

“A concept car like the POP could only have come from Kia,” explains Guillaume.  “Designers very rarely have the opportunity to start from a clean sheet of paper and it’s great to be in a position to operate with such freedom.”

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