Kia FCEV Plans Explained
You probably thought Kia is so hellbent on making more eco cars to get those volumes up and brag about being one of the world’s biggest car makers that they forgot about the future.
Well, they haven’t. They are actually on track with their plans for developing more fuel cell vehicles, hybrids and EVs. For the longer term, Kia is putting its faith in the fuel-cell vehicle (FCEV), which combines hydrogen and oxygen in a complex metal box called a fuel stack to create electricity on the move. Pure water vapour is the only waste product.
Currently Kia is making headway with their FCEV. The Borrego FCEV can cover more than 400 miles on a tank of hydrogen and manages the equivalent of 54mpg. Most of the safety and reliability issues with fuel stacks have now been solved, leaving cost as the main obstacle. They hope to address that until 2015 with joint volume production.
Kia press release:
It used to be said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but there is now a third: oil prices will continue to rise until supplies eventually run out. Some experts already believe that global oil production has reached a plateau, and that although new stocks are being discovered, they will become more difficult and more expensive to tap. Prices will certainly go up with rising global demand, and in many countries local environmental taxes are further increasing the cost of travel.
Kia foresaw this more than a quarter of a century ago, and has been working on alternative-fuel powertrains – hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and the Holy Grail that is hydrogen fuel cells – ever since. Already there are electrified Kia vehicles on sale in some markets. More are on the way, destined for ever-more regions.
Kia produced its first electric vehicle, based on the Vesta van, more than 25 years ago, at a time when the company had been making motor vehicles for only two decades, and developed its first electric car, a Sportage, as long ago as 1999. In 2010-11 the company revealed three electric car concepts in less than 12 months – the Venga, Pop and Naimo – to show how serious it is about bringing EVs to the showroom.
At the end of 2011 Kia began production of an electric car based on the Ray urban runabout for use by Korean government agencies. The Ray EV, in a global first, can be built on the same production line as the petrol-engine model. It has a range of 86 miles and can be recharged in just 25 minutes at a fast-charge point, or in six hours through a domestic plug. Kia is supplying 2,500 Ray EVs to government and public offices as part of a real-world test programme.
Electric vehicles are best suited to short journeys in areas where their limited range is not an issue and the recharging infrastructure is most likely to be found, so Kia is also developing electrification solutions for cars which need to cover longer distances.
In Korea an unusual hybrid system running on a mixture of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and battery power is available in the Forte saloon, a car similar in size to the European cee’d. With a 1.6-litre engine converted to run on LPG and a 15kW electric motor, it has CO2 emissions of only 94g/km. Kia is also planning an LPG hybrid version of the new Picanto.
Since late 2011 the Optima has been available in some American states as a hybrid, powered by a 2.4-litre petrol engine and a 30kW electric motor driving through a hybrid-specific six-speed automatic gearbox. Uniquely among current hybrids, it has a lithium-ion polymer battery which has a higher energy density than a nickel-metal
hydride system, but is 30 per cent lighter. It can accelerate the Optima Hybrid to more than 60mph on battery power alone.
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