This green rollout will start with an Optima PHEV (the 2014 hybrid variant is shown above) with a lithium-polymer battery and will continue with the Niro CUV. Spy shots also suggest both Hyundai and Kia have other dedicated hybrids under development, and rumors hint at their arrival in showrooms in 2017. "Global market demand is shifting to electric vehicles, with oil prices predicted to rise in future," Ki-Sang Lee, the senior vice president at Kia's Eco Friendly Vehicle R&D Center, said in the investment's announcement.
Kia is already familiar with fuel-cell tech thanks to public testing in 2009, but the automaker really wants to push development with a mass-produced model in 2020. The new FCEV would use a 15- percent lighter and five-percent more efficient stack versus current units, and the setup would offer an estimated range of over 497 miles. The company hopes to build 1,000 of these vehicles annually at first.
The automaker's green plan will also aim to boost the brand's average fuel economy by 25 percent from 2014 levels. To make that happen, Kia will replace seven of its 10 engine families and will cut the weight of future vehicles by five percent. The next-gen models will use more efficient transmissions too.
Green car line-up expected to grow from four to 11 models by 2020
Kia targeting hydrogen fuel cell vehicle production within five years
Kia aiming to improve average fuel efficiency by 25% over 2014 levels
Roadmap for low emission cars includes clean combustion, hybrid- and pure- electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells
70% of current engine range set to be replaced by more efficient units
Kia Motors today announced its mid- to long-term plans for the development of a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles. The brand's 'green car roadmap' sets out Kia's ambition to become a leader in the low emissions car market by 2020.
It is anticipated that the five-year development 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 (US$10.2 billion), for the development of a range of new eco-friendly models and building the facilities required for the brand's efforts to further reduce its CO2 output. The investment is likely to result in the creation of thousands of new jobs in domestic R&D positions.
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."
Lee added, "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."
Kia's green car line-up to expand
By 2020, Kia's current green car line-up is expected to grow from four current models to 11. This expanded range of environmentally-friendly vehicles will encompass a wide range of advanced powertrains, from hybrids and plug-in hybrids to battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.
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).
Kia to introduce production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 2020
As part of this five-year plan, Kia is targeting a 2020 launch for mass production of an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, featuring next-generation hydrogen fuel stack technology. Kia is working alongside 300 partner companies to develop the next-generation FCEV technology for global markets. Production of the new Kia FCEV is aimed to be around 1,000 units per year, a figure expected to rise as demand for fuel cell vehicles increases.
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% more efficient and offer 10% greater stack performance, despite being around 15% lighter and 15% lower in volume, compared to current generation fuel cell stacks. The result is a targeted range of more than 800 km from a single fill-up and a top speed of around 170 kph (106 mph).
The durability of the car's fuel cell stack and electric motor will be comprehensively assessed, with tests of existing fuel cell stacks from Hyundai Motor Group – Kia's parent company – covering over 200,000 km on the road. Modern production techniques, system components and electronic control technologies will help Kia to deliver a vehicle that features the high quality standards and levels of innovation that customers have come to expect from the brand.
Kia's research into fuel cells date back to 1998, which resulted in the creation of the limited production Kia Mohave FCEV, able to travel up to 690 km on a single fill-up.
Average fuel efficiency to increase by 25% by 2020
These plans will help Kia in its aim to raise its average corporate fuel efficiency by 25% 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% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.
Advanced powertrain investment to create thousands of new jobs
The investment by Kia's parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, into the development of highly-advanced, highly-efficient powertrain technology as well as smart car technology is expected to create more than 7,300 new jobs, predominantly in R&D roles, over the next four years. Additional job creation is also expected through ongoing investments into the company's R&D and production facilities, with new overseas Kia production facilities also generating new jobs, directly and indirectly.
Editor's note: All technical data contained in this press release are expected targets, pending further development and homologation. All figures are subject to change.