After seeing Kia's Pop concept in person, we can confirm the electric city car is as intriguing to view in person as it is in photos. The automaker was more than forthcoming with images of the show car prior to its unveiling, but we've just received some details on what lies beneath the skin.
Designers aimed to create a car that looked at the "true future" of urban transport, not simply the state of wheeled mobility a few years down the road. As a result, those tasked with crafting the Pop were apparently inspired by modes of transportation other than the car.
"Many of the things that influenced this design were non-automotive," Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe's chief designer, said in a prepared statement. "We were looking at lightweight, aerodynamic things, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles."
Guillaume added his team wanted the Pop to "act as a loose nucleus, or a wild atom." The Pop is certainly wild, thanks to its oblong form, ovoid windows, and scissor-hinged doors. Remarkably, what lies beneath the sci-fi exterior is (somewhat) rooted in today's reality. The Pop is driven by a 50-kilowatt (60 horsepower) electric motor, which is powered by a lithium-polymer gel battery. When fully charged, the Pop can travel 100 miles, and recharging is said to take roughly six hours.
We've seen Kia (and corporate steward Hyundai) playing with these lithium-ion polymer gel batteries for some time now, but the automaker believes there is a true advantage to this battery design. Lithium-polymer gel batteries are typically 20-percent lighter and smaller than standard lithium-ion batteries. This enabled Kia to fit the diminutive POP with an 18-kWh battery, which barely trumps the much larger battery used in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.
For Automobile Magazine's complete coverage of the 2010 Paris show, head to the show index page to read about the exciting debuts from Audi, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Lotus, and all your other favorite brands.