Korean automaker Kia has announced plans to develop “a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles.” The brand’s “green car road map” is a five-year plan that calls for increased R&D into fuel-efficient technologies and new products. New investment by Hyundai Motor Group, Kia’s parent company, totals 11.3 trillion won ($10.2 billion).
The first of the new green models will be a PHEV version of the Kia Optima. It will feature a 9.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery back, a 50 kW transmission-mounted electric motor, and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine. It’s expected to offer 27 miles of electric range and 99 MPGe (on the US cycle), and is to go on sale in the second half of 2016.
A new version of the existing Optima Hybrid is scheduled to appear in the first half of 2016, with a larger battery pack and a more powerful electric motor, which Kia expects to deliver a 10% improvement in fuel economy. The company also has plans for a new hybrid SUV called the Niro.
“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,” said Kia Senior VP Ki-Sang Lee. “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.”