Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ

Kia to sell first global hybrid car – may come to NZ

Kia Motors is about to launch its first ever global hybrid car with the introduction of the Optima Hybrid into the U.S market next month.

The Optima Hybrid uses a Kia-developed powertrain with lithium polymer batteries that won’t need replacing for up to ten years or 240,000kms.

The Optima Hybrid will be a full parallel hybrid vehicle with its 2.4-litre GDi direct injection petrol engine mated to a small electric motor driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.  A special clutch is fitted between the engine and motor, enabling the petrol engine to be de-coupled from the powertrain so that Optima can be operated in zero-emission, full-electric drive mode from standstill up to 100km/h ( 9.2 seconds) or in a co-operative electric-petrol mode at any speed.

Together, the 2.4-litre petrol engine and 40kW electric motor produce a combined power output of 154kW and 265Nm of torque and when it’s running on electric alone produces no emissions. Overall combined emissions are estimated to be 99 grams of CO2/Kilometre.

Kia says the system’s configuration does not have a requirement for a high-capacity electric motor and generator, saving weight and cost. Fuel economy is rated at 6.2L/100km in the combined cycle. This is aided by lowering the car 5mm and including an ‘active air flap’ in the front grille, smooth under-floor panels, low-drag wheels and low rolling resistance tyres.

Currently the Optima Hybrid is only available in left-hand-drive, but if it does become available to right-hand-drive markets, Kia Motors New Zealand General Manager Todd McDonald says he would be very interested in considering it for us here.

“It’s a very advanced hybrid car, yet simpler and less complicated than some that we have seen come onto the market,” he says. “Compared with nickel-metal hydride batteries used in some other hybrids, lithium polymer batteries weigh 20-to-30% less, occupy 40% less volume and are 10% more efficient.  They also hold their charge for 25% longer than nickel-metal hydride batteries and that’s one reason why they have such a long lifespan.

“It’s yet another example of how Kia Motors is developing advanced technologies that really do make a beneficial difference to our customers and also help us to reduce our environmental impact.”

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