2013 Chicago Auto Show: Kia unveils the Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid

Article by Christian A., on February 8, 2013

The sixth super hero from the Justice League that Kia will pay a tribute to is Superman. This will be the sixth one-off Kia Optima patterned after a super hero. To make this possible, Kia teamed up with the Super Street magazine staff. It got a stock 2013 Optima Hybrid and gave it some muscular flared fenders.

It was then painted using Superman’s colors. Most of the vehicle is painted blue but there’s a metallic red stripe around the side windows and out over the rear fenders to remind us of Kal-El’s cape. In addition, Superman’s logo is stamped on the hood. In a press release, Kia said that the beveled red grille supposedly resembles Superman’s belt, while red-tinted headlamps “glow with the same intensity” of Superman’s heat vision.

Kia isn’t just doing this for kicks. Kia is also hoping to raise awareness and possibly raise funding for DC Entertainment’s We Can Be Heroes campaign, which seeks to relieve the suffering of families in the Horn of Africa who face famine and drought.

It’s rumored that Kia will be building a car for Wonder Woman. There may even be an eighth car that supposedly uses all the elements from the seven comic book heroes. This means that it will pay homage to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg.

While there are a number of powertrain systems available on the market today, the one inside the Kia Optima Hybrid stands apart from the rest owing to having a distinct architecture. Ford, and even Toyota, typically utilize what is known as power-split hybrid systems. However, the Optima Hybrid has what is known as a TMED or Transmission-Mounted-Electric-Drive layout.

What this means is that the electric motor is not included with the transmission gear-set. By making use of this configuration, the Optima Hybrid is able to benefit from a number of advantages. For example, there is the use of powertrain packaging that is clearly more efficient. In addition, a number of its parts are considered “off-the-shelf” like the automatic six-speed transmission paired with the 2.4 liter GDI Optima.

Yet another advantage is that the engineering investment is lowered. Because of this, it means that there are additional combinations that can be used in the future like using motors that are more powerful or having batteries with higher capacity. The Optima Hybrid from Kia is also one of the first full hybrid systems being offered on the market to have the automatic step-ratio transmission as standard.

This is the same transmission that was fitted on the 2011 Kia Sorento CUV when this model was first unveiled. Nothing has been changed for the hybrid version. In addition, Kia added an external oil pump, which is electrically-driven, so that the necessary hydraulic fluid pressure is there, ensuring that the clutches remain engaged even if the vehicle itself is in idle stop mode.

Aside from being hard-coupled to the transmission’s input, the electric motor has a synchronous permanent magnet electric traction motor capable of delivering 40.2 hp (30 kW) with peak torque of 151.2 lb.-ft. Note however that the figures refer to the all-electric mode as the hybrid mode produces 206.2 hp with top torque at 195.4 lb.-ft. Going back to the layout, the Optima Hybrid does not have a torque converter.

Rather there is the multi-disc clutch that is positioned in the middle of the motor and the engine. As such, when under electric drive mode or an idle stop, it makes it possible to de-couple the gas engine from the powertrain. Finally with this configuration, it makes sure that the whole package, torsional damper included, can be placed in an area similar to one that has a standard torque converter.

Press Release


Kia Motors America (KMA) has teamed up with DC Entertainment and Super Street magazine to create a head-turning Optima Hybrid inspired by Superman's strength and unwavering care for planet Earth. Unveiled today at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, this Optima Hybrid signals the continuation of a 10-month, eight vehicle partnership between Kia and DC Entertainment based on the iconic characters that make up the Justice League – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. An eighth and final vehicle will be an amalgamation of all seven Super Heroes in one. Influenced by the artistry of comic book visionary, Jim Lee, the Justice League-inspired Kia vehicles serve as a force for good in the world by raising awareness of DC Entertainment's "We Can Be Heroes" giving campaign, a relief effort to bring help and hope to people affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa (www.WeCanBeHeroes.org).

"As the most recognized Super Hero in the world, Superman is a symbol of strength and integrity, making him the perfect character to join forces with Kia's first-ever hybrid to create a customized ride powered by a robust and efficient powertrain," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing and communications, KMA. "Each of our Justice League-inspired vehicles are remarkable collaborations between the automotive and comic book worlds, and all for a worthy cause. To that, Kia is very proud to be partnering with DC Entertainment to raise awareness for the 'We Can Be Heroes' campaign."

Working together, Kia, DC Entertainment and Super Street magazine designed and built the Superman-themed Optima Hybrid, a one-of-a-kind Kia that represents the strength and fortitude of the world's most iconic Super Hero. The Optima has been widened with custom fenders, giving the vehicle a muscular appearance, and it features an adjustable suspension system that can raise and lower the vehicle with the push of a button. The stylized color scheme on the hood spotlights Superman's unmistakable chest emblem while an eye-catching red paint design extends to the trunk, evoking the look of his crimson cape. The beveled front grille resembles Superman's belt, and the red headlights glow with the same intensity of his heat vision.

The interior of the Optima Hybrid is upholstered with custom materials chosen for their unique appearance and texture to reflect Superman's impenetrable battle armor. And Superman's iconic "S" shield is integrated into the seats and steering wheel to give it the right heroic touch.

"This joint effort to raise awareness for the 'We Can Be Heroes' giving campaign through Justice League-inspired cars has proven to be a huge hit with both comic fans and car aficionados," stated Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management, DC Entertainment. "We're excited to continue our partnership with Kia to bring the latest addition, the Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid, to fans in Chicago and beyond."

As Kia's sales have grown, so has the company's role as a responsible corporate citizen, and the Superman-themed Optima furthers those efforts with two video screens in the front-seat headrests that will raise awareness about the worst hunger crisis in 60 years by featuring a custom "We Can Be Heroes" video that demonstrates how one small act can make anyone a hero.

About the Optima Hybrid
The Kia Optima Hybrid stands apart from the crowd with its impressive power, eye-catching style, modern amenities and long list of standard safety features. Kia's first hybrid in the U.S. offers drivers cutting edge-technologies, including an eight-speaker Infinity® audio system, HD Radio™ and Kia's UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment and communications system.

About DC Entertainment
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating its content across Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world. In January 2012, DC Entertainment, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Time Warner divisions, launched We Can Be Heroes-a giving campaign featuring the iconic Justice League super heroes-to raise awareness and funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Kia: One of the World's Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands
Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time. With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry. Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand's "Top 100 Best Global Brands," and is poised to continue its record-breaking momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013. Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company's first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs. The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry's largest segments has fueled Kia's growth and is complemented by Kia's comprehensive lineup which includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, 5-door compact hatchback and Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2012, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and gained U.S. market share for the 18th consecutive year. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

If you liked the article, share on:



A new body configuration will be added to Nissan’s Titan and Titan XD large pickup trucks starting in the 2017 model year. The Japanese carmaker announced at the 2017 Chicago...
by - February 21, 2017
Believe it or not, Mopar has been a part of the automotive world for 80 years. Yes, Mopar is celebrating its 80 years of existence this 2017, and as part...
by - February 21, 2017
If you are wondering why this Alfa Romeo SUV being shown at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show looks so familiar, wonder no more. Well, it is because it is identical...
by - February 14, 2017
What does Chevy’s all–new Redline Series have to say about this? Nissan always takes the lead in designing trim packages for self-expression. As soon as Nissan first came out with...
by - February 13, 2017
Both the Toyota Sequoia and the Toyota Tundra may be tough vehicles but they don’t lack style. But how could we make these two vehicles – some of the largest...
by - February 13, 2017

Youtube Channel

Tip Us
Do you have a tip for us?
Did you film an important event?
Contact us
Subscribe to our newsletter!