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Kia investing billions into eco-friendly range, announces five-year roadmap

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 17 November 2015

SOUTH Korean carmaker Kia, bowing to changing market rends, will bid to become a leader in the low-emissions market under a five-year development plan announced today.

The company intends to expand its green car line-up from four current models to 11 by 2020, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.

The plan will see Kia further increase its investment in research and development (R&D) into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.

The new investment by Hyundai Motor Group, Kia’s parent company, totals 11.3 trillion won (RM44 billion), for the development of a range of new eco-friendly models and building the facilities required.

Ki-Sang Lee, Senior Vice President, Eco Friendly Vehicle R&D Center, Kia Motors Corporation, commented, “Global market demand is shifting to electric vehicles, with oil prices predicted to rise in future.

“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.”

The first models to be launched featuring new types of powertrains under the brand’s 2020 vision for low emissions cars will be the Kia Optima PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which will feature a high capacity lithium-polymer battery pack and electric motor, as well as an efficient six-speed automatic transmission, and the Niro hybrid utility vehicle (HUV), which will target CO2 emissions of 90 g/km (combined, based on the New European Driving Cycle).

An all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, featuring next-generation hydrogen fuel stack technology is slated for 2020.

Kia’s FCEV will feature a fuel stack similar in size to a 2.0-litre internal combustion engine, which development teams believe will offer drivers a high level of durability and power density from the advanced powertrain.

Kia engineers are planning to develop the brand’s next-generation fuel cell stack to be 5 percent more efficient and offer 10 percent greater stack performance, despite being around 15 percent lighter and 15 percent lower in volume, compared to current generation fuel cell stacks.

A range of more than 800 km from a single fill-up and a top speed of around 170 kph has been targeted.

These plans will help Kia in its aim to raise its average corporate fuel efficiency by 25 percent over 2014 levels by 2020.

As well as investment in advanced propulsion technologies, Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation gasoline and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines.

Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a 5 percent reduction in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.

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