It’s that time of year. The biennial Paris Motor Show is little more than six weeks away and automakers are beginning to give us some hints of what they’ll be pulling the wraps off at the Mondial de l’Automobile.
The list starts with Kia, which has provided us these teaser shots of something it has dubbed the Electric Pop, which will make its formal debut on September 30th.
Other than that, the maker isn’t saying much. Its terse release advises us that, “Kia’s three-metre three-seater boasts zero-emissions and brings innovative design chic to the city car segment with its dramatic styling.” End of story. At least the official one.
But what, our investigative journalism professor might have asked, can we learn from all this? The picture does reveal a bit more, the Pop being the sort of over-the-top design we used to find reserved by the home-town brands for the Tokyo Motor Show.
The silver-skinned minicar is a two-seater with a distinctly assymetric interior. On the driver’s side, the instrument panel has an almost cockpit-like feel, but there’s a bench seat, rather than twin buckets, and the interior opens up wide on the passenger side.
The unusual design combines the windshield and roof into one, expansive glass panel. But the angled side windows don’t necessarily enhance visibility. Nor does the lack of side mirrors — or even any apparent rearview cameras.
The images suggest low-energy LED head and taillamps. We’re trying to figure out if the odd rear port is there for charging. In fact, the name, Pop, suggests the battery-electric vehicle may have the capability of quick-charging, a goal that many manufacturers believe would help enhance the appeal of range-limited BEVs.
The entire vehicle, as quirky as it appears, is clearly designed to maximize aerodynamics, down to the virtually solid wheel covers.
What we can only guess at is the technology hidden beneath the Electric Pop’s reflective skin. We’ll take any odds that the drive system is based on lithium-ion technology. What there’s simply no way of knowing is whether Kia will, ahem, pop for wheel-mounted motors or a single motor.
Without question, the Kia Electric Pop concept is aimed at presenting a possible way to look at future mobility needs for the urban environment – cities like Seoul, or New York, for that matter, where space is at a premium, driving distances are often short, and alternative power makes more sense.
Kia’s sibling Korean brand, Hyundai, has made it clear that it will be moving aggressively into battery propulsion, starting with the 2011 Sonata Hybrid. Kia is expected to make similar moves.
We’ll have to wait until late next month, we anticipate, to get the full story.