Kia has embarked on an ambitious 5 year plan that will add 11 new low and zero emissions cars to its model lineup and increase the average efficiency of Kia’s complete model range 25% by 2020. The program calls for an investment of $10 billion between now and 2020. The company says that investment will create 1000 new domestic jobs. Part of the program includes the all new Kia Niro hybrid SUV that seeks to set new fuel economy records in the compact SUV segment of the market. The Niro is said to emit only 90 grams of carbon per kilometer — 10% less than the maximum regulators in Europe will require of all auto makers within a few years.
Next on the Kia “to do” list is the Optima plug-in hybrid, which will supplement the existing Optima hybrid. It has a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine paired with a 50 kW electric motor and a six speed automatic gearbox. It should be capable of an 80% charge in three hours or less and will have 27 miles of electric only range. Overall fuel economy of 119 MPGe is expected.
Britain’s Auto Express has sampled the Optima PHEV in Korea and reports it is “remarkably quiet when running in full electric mode at speeds of 50 mph.” It says the passenger compartment is “a big step up from its predecessor in terms of quality and layout.”
Kia says it is also working on a fuel cell sedan for the year 2020. It expects the fuel stack will have about the same power as a conventional 2 liter gasoline engine. A range of 500 miles on a tank of hydrogen is expected, with a top speed greater than 100 mph. Kia says it will build 1000 FCEVs in the first year of production.
Ki-Sang Lee, senior vice president at Kia’s Eco Friendly Vehicle R&D Center, says in a press release, “The electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle market will grow rapidly in the coming years, and this investment will enable Kia to meet the growing demand with a range of advanced new products and technologies. We don’t believe that there is any one ‘silver bullet’ that can satisfy the demand for low emission technology within the car industry, so we foresee a wide range of eco-friendly powertrains co-existing for an extended period of time. The plans we’ve announced today represent Kia’s ambition to become a worldwide leader in advanced propulsion technology.”
Let’s hope that Kia stylists, who are some of the best in the world, will not follow in Toyota’s footsteps when it comes time to design its new fuel cell cars. The world already has enough ugly cars.
Source | Photos: AutoExpress UK.