Chevrolet Miray Hybrid Electric Debuts at Seoul Motor Show

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Chevrolet Miray by itself is clearly a show car, but with hints of realistic or at least semi-realistic GM production technology.

Chevrolet introduced the Miray concept hybrid electric vehicle at the 2011 Seoul Motor Show today. The roadster is significant because it was developed at the General Motors Advanced Design Studio in Seoul, increasingly the source of small car work for the U.S. based and taxpayer owned GM.

Chevrolet, now anointed as a GM global brand, is attempting to break into the protected Korean market, with it’s success somewhat dependent on increasing imports under the controversial and still un-ratified Korean Free Trade Agreement.

Korea ranks at the very bottom — 30 out of 30 among the largest automotive markets — for import market access. The average among major developed economies is approximately 40% market penetration by imported automobiles, but in Korea, the total of import vehicles from all global manufacturers in all countries entering the Korean market is around 4%. This is about 40,000 vehicles in a market that buys roughly one million vehicles annually.

Without intended irony, I suspect, “Mi-ray’ is Korean for “future,” and at the moment the future looks bright for not only GM’s Daewoo subsidiary but also Hyundai and Kia, which are also based in Korea’s protected market from which the export globally.

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Another, exaggerated, cockpit interior.

The Chevrolet Mi-ray itself is clearly a show car, but with hints of realistic or at least semi-realistic production technology. Miray is made with carbon fiber and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, although no weight was revealed. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; two15-kW electric motors and a relatively small 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack – all out of the GM production parts bin. More than 60 mpg is claimed for the two seater.

 

The two front-mounted 15-kW electric motors are for quick acceleration and zero emissions in urban driving – but with the small lithium ion battery it won’t run on electricity for very long – even with recharging via regenerative braking energy.

For longer range driving, the Miray’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine combines with the electric motors. The four-cylinder engine, is mounted behind the cockpit, and is connected to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch automatic transmission, now a common industry production practice since DCTs reduce a powertrain’s size by eliminating the hydraulic torque converter, and computer controls can provide optimized fuel economy ratings tuned to government test cycles.

Short term prospects for expensive and range limited pure electric vehicles are dependent on government mandates and subsidies of course, but hybrids are fairing somewhat better -at least in the U.S. – although they remain only a tiny couple of percentage points of  projected  global sales volumes for the balance of the decade (2010 2.2%).

Whether a two-seat hybrid can be successful remains to be seen. Frequent automotive innovator Honda is trying to prove that it can work with its two seat CR-Z, which has sold about 3,000 units in the U.S. this year.  (See also Korean Free Trade Agreement gets UAW, Ford Support, GM Will Repay $1.0 Billion of Korean Debt and Driving Impression – Chevrolet Cruze, Hybrid Vehicle Sales Slump! EV Demand Overhyped?)

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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1 Response to Chevrolet Miray Hybrid Electric Debuts at Seoul Motor Show

  1. Olivia says:

    You know Ken, I posted about this earlier today on my blog. Your post has given me lots of food for thought, I think that you made some important points. I really wish I had discovered it before I wrote my own post! – cars2scrap

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