2010 Paris Motor Show: Kia Pop Concept is an exotic appearance

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 30, 2010

Kia unveiled its electric concept, named the POP, at the Paris Motor Show, and has released full details and specifications. The Kia POP concept was designed to act like a “wild atom,” which epitomizes the company’s vision of what “future urban electric transport“ would be.

According to Gregory Guillaume, Kia Europe’s Chief Designer, said that he is pleased that Kia is in a position to “operate with such freedom.” The Kia POP measures 3.0 m (118 inch) in length, 1.74 m (68.5 inch) in width and 1.49 m (58.66 inch) in height, and has a wheelbase of 2.055 m (81 inch).

The POP is a chrome-colored three-seater with an electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors. Guillaume said, “Many of the things that influenced this design were non-automotive.”

He disclosed that the designers were inspired by studying “lightweight, aerodynamic things, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles.” The rear seat is positioned at an offset angle facing out from the rear passenger side across the cabin to the driver-side A pillar.

A Transparent Organic LED (TOLED) display can be seen on a small piece of plexi-glass in front of the steering wheel. This display shows a speedometer, battery charge gauge and the other main readouts when the car is running.

When the car is off, this display is totally transparent. Powering the POP is an electric motor that offers 68 hp and 190 Nm of torque, and is coupled to a lithium polymer gel battery. A full recharge takes 6 hours with a 230V outlet, or 30 minutes of high voltage. It can hit a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) and has a range of 87 miles (140 km).

Press Release

Kia Pop Concept

Being given its world debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show the Kia POP Concept is a striking vision of future urban electric transport created by the company's European Design Centre in Frankfurt led by Guillaume under the direction of Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Chief Design Officer.

"The POP fits in perfectly with our 'challenger brand' ethos," Guillaume continues; "We're trying to stir things up in the automotive world, to surprise people even more. We wanted this car to act as a loose nucleus, a wild atom."

And the chrome-coloured, three-metre-long three-seater with an electric drivetrain, oblong-shaped side windows and front-hinged doors certainly does surprise. Compared to electric-car concepts that have gone before, the Kia POP Concept does indeed appear to start from a very different place.

Peter Schreyer adds; "The POP doesn't point at the style of the next generation of cars, but looks even further into the future. There are a lot of new things, for example the side-window graphic is like a signature, unique with its own character."

Schreyer particularly points out the striking side-window design, the high-tech feel of the dot-pattern grille and taillights, the full-length glass roof, and the simplistic, clean look of the wheels - all pointing, he says, to inspiration derived from outside the usual automotive spheres.

"Many of the things that influenced this design were non-automotive," Guillaume explains. "We were looking at lightweight, aerodynamic things, such as gliders and high-speed bicycles. We realised that the automotive world wasn't inspiring us to achieve what we wanted to achieve."

The Frenchman enthusiastically describes how the heads of the front passengers are perfectly positioned at the centre of the windows' top ellipses; how at night the grille allows Kia's trademark 'tiger nose' to illuminate the darkness; and how the protrusions at the bottom corners of the doors are actually rear-view cameras that relay images to small screens in the cabin.

He continues; "The inside and outside were always designed together. From the start we looked at the seating on that very short footprint and tried to ensure that passengers would have a perfect view, just like in a helicopter.

"The seats are designed to be non-automotive. They're very pure, very simple, almost furniture-like. The front bench is sculpted, with interesting, flowing lines and, because it's an electric car without a conventional engine, we were able to push the firewall far forward," he explains.

The rear seat is positioned at an offset angle facing out from the rear passenger side across the cabin to the driver-side A pillar. It's a two-part affair with a base that flips up when not in use and a back and headrest integrated into the headlining. The resultant legroom is quite remarkable in a 1,740mm-wide car with a wheelbase of just 2,055mm.

Guillaume explains the purple colour scheme; "We wanted just one colour in order to create a calm and peaceful environment. There's such a clean feel inside. When we were working on it, we came across an image of a space ship cabin and it was so clean and capsule-like - like a cocoon - that was a big influence."

On the subject of space travel, the Kia POP Concept has two more interior features that wouldn't look out of place on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. On a small piece of plexi-glass in front of the steering wheel sits a Transparent Organic LED (TOLED) display that shows a speedometer, battery charge gauge and the other main readouts when the car is running, but is otherwise totally transparent.

"We thought that there was a lot that could be done with the driver's main points of contact with the car - a chance to be visionary. The TOLED has many advantages over the current generation of head-up displays, principally that it doesn't require a projector that takes up space and weighs a lot. This, we believe, is the future," Guillaume adds.

Guillaume is also enthusiastic about the secondary control displays; "You get so used to designers trying to make things look overly 'techy', with lots of buttons and switches. But in the Kia POP Concept there is only one button. Everything else - audio, sat-nav, climate control and so on - is controlled via the animated touch screen and the dot animation creates a warm feel for the driver."

Thanks to its striking overall look and intriguing individual features, it's easy to forget that the Kia POP Concept is also in fact a fully-electric, zero-emissions vehicle with a 50kW, 190Nm motor and a single-charge range of 160km. It's powered by highly efficient, compact lithium polymer gel batteries and is fully rechargeable in just six hours.

Guillaume concludes; "You know, I have this vision in my head of a Kia POP Concept sat at the lights at a busy Paris intersection with all these Vespa riders waiting alongside, noisily revving their engines. Then, when the lights go green, the Kia POP Concept just serenely moves off without a sound."

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