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First Look: Kia Naimo

A battery car for squares?

by on Mar.31, 2011

Naimo, Kia's third battery car concept, adopts the square shape familiar to fans of the Soul.

A first look at the new Naimo concept vehicle and you might think you’re looking at the next-generation Kia Soul.  They do share some basics, including the hard-edged new prototype its name, Naimo derived from the Korean word for “square shape.”

But with its pottery-like finish, the new Kia Naimo is the latest in a string of battery-powered prototypes from the Korean carmaker, this one making its debut today at the annual Seoul Motor Show.  As with many recent electric vehicles, Kia’s concept targets an urban market where today’s relatively limited batteries won’t produce excess range anxiety.

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A relatively simple design nonetheless boasts some distinctive features, including a wraparound windshield and an unusual, asymmetric sunroof.  The front and rear LED lamps use a dot-like design.

Though it sits on a modest B-segment platform, Kia targeted a more upscale market for the Naimo, offering a Korean oak-laden interior contrasted by the use of a classic Korean paper-finished headliner.

Despite its compact size, Kia Naimo boasts a roomy, more upscale interior.

Among the more high-tech features, the Kia Naimo abandons conventional windshield wipers in favor of high-intensity air jets at the base of the windscreen.  Outside mirrors have been replaced with more aerodynamic cameras tucked into the A-pillars.

“Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition.  It was heavily inspired by the purity and grace of traditional Korean arts and crafts, but combines this with cutting edge technologies to deliver a truly premium experience,” explains Kia Motors’ Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

The Kia Naimo measures barely 13 feet, nose-to-tail, but the tall design provides a reasonably roomy cabin.

Measuring about 13 feet, nose-to-tail, the Naimo is the third electric concept vehicle Kia has introduced.  To overcome the limitations of its short body, it adopts the same basic box layout as the Soul.

Power comes from a 109 horsepower PMSM, or Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor, which can deliver a top speed of 93 mph.

Energy is stored in a split battery pack tucked under the cargo floor.  Using lithium-ion polymer cells, it holds 27 kilowatt-hours, enough, Kia claims, to propel the Naimo for 124 miles.  The maker claims a conventional charging time of 5.5 hours, but a 440-volt quick charge system can “tank up” to 80% charge in just 25 minutes.

For the moment, Kia says the Naimo is just intended for fleet testing, but senior company officials recently told TheDetroitBureau.com that they expect battery power to play a significant role in their line-up in the coming years, so don’t be surprised to see the show car spawn some sort of production vehicle in the near future.

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