Kia Getting Ready For The Future
It’s a well known fact that the earth’s oil supplies will eventually run out and until that time comes, oil prices will continue to rise. Experts believe that global earth production has reached a lull, although new stocks are been discovered it will become more difficult and more expensive to tap into them.
As global demand rises prices will increase further and many countries local environment taxes will further increase the cost of travel. Kia saw the future and have been working on alternative fuel power-trains, hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells for the last quarter of a century.
Kia already have some electrified vehicles on some markets and these are destined for more regions in the near future, with more vehicles on the way too. The first electrified vehicle Kia produced was based on the Vesta Van, which was more than 25 years ago and the company itself had only been making motor vehicles for two decades and developed its first electric car, a Sportage in 1999. The company also revealed three electric concept cars in 2010-11, these were the Venga, Pop and Naimo, showing how serious they were about electric vehicles.
In 2011 Kia also began producing another electric car, this was based on the Ray, which is an urban run about that was used by the Korean Government agencies. The Ray EV was a global first which was built on the same production line as its petrol-engine model. The Ray EV had a 86 mile range and could be recharged in 25 minutes by a fast-charge point or six hours through a domestic plug. Kia are currently supplying 2,500 Ray EV’s to the Korean government and public offices as part of a real-world test programme.
At the moment Electric vehicles are more for urban use, usually used for short journeys, in areas where their limited range is not an issue as recharging infrastructure is most likely to be found. Kia are also still working on electrification solutions for cars that need to do longer journeys.
At the moment in Korea a different hybrid system is being used, running on a mixture of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and battery power. It’s available in the Forte saloon, which is a similar size to the cee’d. It has a 1.6 litre engine converted to run on LPG and a 15kW electric motor, its emissions are only 94/km, they are also planning to do a LPG hybrid version of the Picanto.
Kia are concentrating on the fuel-cell (FCEV) for long term use, this combines hydrogen and oxygen in a complex metal cell called a fuel stack, this creates electricity on the move and pure water is the only waste product.
This first FCEV was developed by KIA in 2003, based on the Sportage , it’s now advanced its technology close to the production-ready stage through trails with the Borrego a large SUV. At the moment the Borrego FCEV has a 54mpg and can cover 400 miles on a tank of hydrogen. Most of the reliability and safety issues with fuel stacks have now been solved. The main obstacle left is the cost issue, which will come down with volume production.
They are currently seven major auto makers agreeing to begin making fuel cell vehicles by 2015 and Kia are one of them. The plan is to make 10,000 a year by the middle of the decade and than increase this to 100,000 a year as quickly as possible, at this point it’s expected that costs will be comparable with those of a petrol or diesel cars.
Kia have signed a memorandum of understanding with four European countries to operate a fleet of fuel cell vehicles in Europe as part of a test and development programme. They also joined the Clean Energy Partnership in 2011 to help promote the development and take-up of FCEV’s across Germany to showcase there Eco-friendly models and technologies.