2014 Paris Motor Show Preview: Kia Optima T-Hybrid Concept makes early debut

Article by Andrew Christian, on September 29, 2014

Kia intends to uncover the new Kia Optima T-Hybrid (turbo hybrid) concept at the 2014 Paris Motor Show on October 2. This version of the Optima features the first application and demonstration of the Kia new mild hybrid powertrain. To start with, the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept is powered by a 1.7-liter CRDi turbo-diesel engine found on the diesel-run Optima. It is complemented by a small electric motor powered by a 48V lead-carbon battery.

Just recently, Kia provided a glimpse of the diesel-electric powertrain concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. This mild hybrid powertrain allows the Optima T-Hybrid concept to run in electric-only mode at low speeds and when cruising. During deceleration, a system allows the battery pack to be recharged.

Kia chose to use lead-carbon batteries for the mild hybrid powertrain since they don’t need to be cooled actively and are easier to recycle at the end of the unit’s lifecycle. Further advancements found on the Optima concept are a zero-emission stop-start system and a new belt-driven starter generator that takes the place of the conventional alternator to achieve a noiseless and vibration-less engine restart.

By equipping the Optima sedan with the mild hybrid powertrain, Kia’s engineers were able to install a smaller vehicle battery and starter motor that helped improved weight distribution and handling. The system also paved the way for the installation of an electric supercharger for the CRDi engine to complement the conventional turbocharger – resulting to better power and torque at all engine speeds.

The electric supercharger could help increase torque and engine response at low engine speeds. Since the mild hybrid powertrain remains under development, Kia has yet to finalize the performance and fuel economy figures in the Optima T-Hybrid concept. Nevertheless, Kia’s engineers are aiming to achieve much lower fuel consumption and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, as well as get a 15-20 percent jump in power for any model on which the mild hybrid will be installed.

The 1.7-liter CRDi turbo-diesel engine found on the Optima (with ISG stop-start) develops 136PS and emits 128 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Since the Kia Optima T-Hybrid is still under development, Kia has yet to confirm any plans for mass production of the concept. However, Kia is considering the T-Hybrid powertrain for new Kia models in the future.

Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer of Kia Motors Europe, remarked that the mild hybrid powertrain could offer greater performance and lower running costs in the future, without compromising the qualities expected of a Kia car.

He noted that the T-Hybrid technology will result to a lower total cost of ownership of Kia cars, while keeping them affordable for customers. Cole added that the new mild hybrid system is Kia’s flagship technology for improving the efficiency of their internal conventional models. He also noted that such technology could help the carmaker further trim fleet emissions in Europe.

Press Release

Kia to showcase diesel-electric Kia Optima T-Hybrid at Paris Motor Show

Kia will reveal the new Kia Optima mild hybrid show car at the 2014 Paris Motor Show on 2 October, the first application and demonstration of the brand’s innovative new mild hybrid powertrain.

The Kia Optima T-Hybrid (turbo hybrid) concept is powered by the model’s existing 1.7-litre CRDi turbo-diesel engine, paired with a small electric motor, powered by a 48V lead-carbon battery. The diesel-electric powertrain concept, which was previewed at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, enables the Optima T-Hybrid show car to be driven in electric-only mode at low speeds and when cruising, with deceleration serving to recharge the battery pack.

Lead-carbon batteries were chosen for the mild hybrid powertrain as, unlike lithium-ion batteries, they require no active cooling and are easier to recycle at the end of the unit’s lifecycle.

The vehicle features a zero-emissions stop-start system, and a new belt-driven starter generator replaces the conventional alternator, meaning the engine can restart with almost no noise or vibration. Installing the powertrain in the Optima sedan has enabled engineers to fit a smaller vehicle battery and starter motor, enhancing weight distribution and handling.

The system also allows the installation of an innovative electric supercharger for the CRDi engine, in addition to the conventional turbocharger, providing improved power and torque at all engine speeds. The electric supercharger in particular helps to boost torque and engine response at low engine speeds.

Still under development, no specific performance or fuel economy figures are confirmed for the powertrain or its application in the Optima T-Hybrid show car. However, Kia’s engineers are targeting a significant reduction in CO2 tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption and a power increase of between 15 to 20 percent for any model which could be equipped with the new powertrain. Currently, the Optima’s 136ps 1.7-litre engine produces CO2 emissions of 128 g/km (when fitted with ISG stop-start).

“In future, our mild hybrid powertrain could offer Kia customers greater performance and lower running costs, without sacrificing the qualities they expect of a Kia car – enjoyable handling, a comfortable ride and high quality. Demonstrated for the first time in the Optima T-Hybrid, the technology will lower the total cost of ownership of our cars, yet still keep them affordable as an outright purchase for customers,” commented Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe.

“The new mild hybrid system is our flagship technology for improving the efficiency of our internal combustion-powered models. In future, technology such as this will help Kia further reduce fleet emissions in Europe,” added Cole.

While under development, no plans have been confirmed yet for mass production of the Kia Optima T-Hybrid show car. The T-Hybrid powertrain remains under consideration for new Kia models in the future.

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