Kia is not a brand most people think of as being on the cutting edge of alternative drivetrain technology, especially in the U.S. market. Here they are mostly thought of as a purveyor of inexpensive, decent but not outstanding cars. However we can't forget that Kia is a part of Hyundai and that brand has consistently ranked in the top three in CAFE rankings for the last several years, along with Toyota and Honda. That's without even having a hybrid, diesel or flex-fuel vehicle in the lineup. Together Hyundai and Kia have several R&D facilities in South Korea including one that is dedicated to green technology. Kia has been testing prototype hybrid vehicles in Korea for several years and will launch its first production model there in the new Spectra in 2009. The Spectra will use a mild hybrid system similar to Honda's IMA along with an engine fueled on liquid propane. The hybrid hardware will migrate to the next-generation Optima for the U.S. the following year. Rather than a dedicated hybrid, Kia plans to go straight to a dedicated EV around 2013. Beyond that, Kia and Hyundai are actively developing fuel cell technology in-house. Kia plans to start a low volume production fleet test in 2010 with a fuel cell-powered version of the Borrego SUV.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]

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