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Korean brand electrifies city runabout – for domestic market only.

Kia has unveiled its first electric vehicle this week, the Ray EV city runabout – but don’t expect to see it on Australia’s roads.

Built exclusively for Korea’s domestic market, the front-wheel-drive Ray EV is technically similar to the BlueOn concept that parent company Hyundai previewed about 12 months ago.

Kia’s first global electric vehicle won’t arrive locally until at least 2014 in the form of a yet-to-be-seen, all-new compact SUV, which the company announced at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

The Ray EV is powered by a 50kW electric motor and 16.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack to deliver 167Nm of torque and a range of almost 140 kilometres from a single charge, Kia says.

Claimed to be “brisker than the gasoline models”, the Ray EV reaches 100km/h in a lazy 15.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 130km/h. At 1185 kilograms, it is also 187kg heavier than its 1.0-litre conventional-engined sibling.

The boxy mini-van features a flap in the front radiator grille that covers an electricity inlet for a six-hour “slow” charge at home or work. Another inlet replaces the fuel intake for 25-minute fast charges.

Currently there are 500 slow/fast recharge stations in South Korea, with the government planning to increase that figure to 3100 stations by the end of 2012, according to Kia.

Inside, the electrified Ray comes with the “first-ever EV-specific navigation system” that features a 7.0-inch multi-function screen to provide information such as the nearest recharging station. The satellite navigation system also displays a range radius in which the car can travel with its current level of battery power.

The Ray EV emits an audible sound to alert pedestrians nearby, similar to many otherwise-silent-running electric vehicles. Kia, however, has opted for familiarity by sounding a mix of recorded petrol-engine noises when travelling at speeds below 20km/h.

Conventional safety equipment comprises six airbags and stability control.

Kia says it plans to build 2500 examples of the Ray EV, to be used predominantly by government departments.

The Ray EV will be built from the same production line as regular combustion-engine models, which Kia claims is a first for a car maker.