Spy Photos: Kia Pride Hybrid?

One of our tipsters sent over this shot from points unconfirmed. If the badging is accurate, it's a hybrid version of the Kia Pride (think: Ford Festiva) snapped in a secret location under a covert kimchee-and-dumplings factory in South Korea. Kia's already said it's serious about getting into the hybrid game. A plan for parent Hyundai to supply engines and LG providing the electronics has been on the table since late 2005. The companies announced they'd set up a joint R&D team, with hybrid production facilities scheduled to go live at the end of 2006. The appearance of this model seems to contadict later reports indicating that, while the Kia Rio that was originally to have been hybridized for a late-2006 launch, currency-exchange demands led the company to put off the rollout until 2009. Does this prototype mean the project's being newly fast-tracked. Keep an eye toward the East for more info. [UPDATE: The Pride is the Rio, as sold in Asia. Our tipster also says the source didn't indicate whether the car is part of the original prototype fleet aimed at getting hybrids to consumers in 2006, or if it the Pride/Rio is being used as a "mule" for a future product.]

Related:
LG, LS, LHyundai Team Up for Korean Hybrids [internal]