If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the folks at Mini should send a "thank you" note to Kia. The Korean automaker's boxy-looking and electric-powered Naimo Concept, which was unveiled this week at the Seoul Auto Show, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Mini Cooper.
Taking its name from the Korean word "Ne-mo," (pronounced `Neh-mo,' meaning `square shape') Kia refers to this concept as an electric crossover utility vehicle. We find the categorization a bit of a stretch, so to speak. With a length of only 153.1 in., the Naimo is more than 8 in. shorter than the petit Mini Countryman SUV.
Korean Design Touches
The Naimo's short overhangs and wheels at each corner aren't the only aspects of this electric concept that bring Mini to mind. A wraparound windshield, rear-hinged rear doors (as in the Mini Clubman), and blunt front fascia all seem exceptionally Mini-like in design and execution.
Kia's says the exterior is characterized by "its simple lines and solid, muscular stance." The front and rear dot-style LED lights are a nice styling touch. And the three-way split rear hatch is clever, though a conventional single door would probably work just as well.
Continuing nearly every automaker's seemingly endless fascination with using wood flooring in concepts, the Naimo employs Korean oak to trim the door panels and the entire floor. Korean "han-ji" paper is used for the headliner, while the jade-colored exterior is said to be inspired by Asian Celadon-style pottery.
Kia Goes Electric
More important than the packaging is what's under the hood of the Naimo. Power comes from a permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor (try saying that three times fast) with an output of 80 kWh and maximum torque of 206 lb.-ft. A twin-pack 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery is located under the trunk floor.
Kia says the Naimo can reach a top speed of 93 mph—about the same as the Nissan Leaf—and has a driving range of 124 miles. Low-drag tires on 20-in. alloy wheels are used to eek out extra miles and boost range.
By using quick-charging, Kia says the Naimo's battery pack can be recharged to 80 percent of its capacity within 25 minutes. However, in normal conditions a 100-percent recharge still takes more than five hours.
Kia has not said if Naimo will reach production. It seems likely, considering that the automaker has shown three electric vehicles at recent auto shows: the Pop city car in Paris, the Venga hatchback in Geneva, and now the Naimo in Seoul. An electric-powered Venga is expected to be launched in 2013.