Just like every other car maker Kia is these days busy kicking its EV programs into high gear. This is of course an inevitable path for whoever wants to survive in the auto industry when the oil apocalypse happens and electricity becomes the main source of power for cars. The Koreans are taking a special interest in fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, rather than plug-in EVs, because they just make more sense.
Kia began developing FCEVs back in 2003 with an experimental Sportage. Now they have arrived at the point where their Borrego FCEV can cover more than 400 miles on a tank of hydrogen and manages the equivalent of 54mpg. They say they have addressed the issues with fuel stacks, and therefore safety and reliability, and are now looking for ways to bring the costs of production down.
The answer to that is of course volume production. Kia is one of the seven major auto makers that agreed on mass producing Fuel Cell cars by 2015. he plan is to be making 10,000 a year by the middle of the decade and to increase this to 100,000 a year as quickly as possible, by which time it is expected that costs will be comparable with those of a petrol or diesel car.
The Korean car maker has also signed a memorandum of understanding with four European countries to run a fleet of fuel cell test vehicles in the continent.
Parallel to the FCEV efforts, Kia is also working on hybrids and alternative fuel solutions. 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.
In America meanwhile they have the Optima Hybrid. Powered by a 2.4-litre petrol engine and a 30kW electric motor driving through a hybrid-specific six-speed automatic gearbox, the car can accelerate to more than 60mph on battery power alone.