Kia’s all-new Optima Hybrid saloon, which aims to boost the carmaker’s environmental credentials, made its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The Optima Hybrid ushers in Kia into its ‘EcoDynamics’ era. The saloon was first seen last November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It is regarded to be another major step towards Kia’s goal of manufacturing and marketing environmentally-friendly personal transport for future generations.
The Optima Hybrid is the result of the unique collaboration between many Kia facilities worldwide. In particular, this list includes Kia’s Eco-Technology Research Institute near Seoul and the Namyang Research and Development facility.
It’s expected that further development of the ‘full parallel hybrid system’ on the Optima Hybrid will be done and will be used in Kia models that will arrive in the next decade. Mass production of the Optima Hybrid is set to start in September 2011.
The vehicle makes use of a truly innovative Kia-developed hybrid powertrain that offers a unique mix of performance. The car can accelerate to 62 mph (100 kph) in 9.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 121 mph (195 kph).
It also offers class-leading fuel economy, attaining a 40.7% fuel consumption improvement compared with the standard US petrol version. The Kia Optima Hybrid features a ‘parallel hybrid system’ that can be described as ingenious, simple and cost-effective. The 2.4-litre petrol engine is mated to a small electric motor and drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission without the traditional torque converter.
A special clutch is positioned between the Optima Hybrid’s petrol engine and the electric motor, allowing the petrol engine to de-couple from the powertrain.
As a result, it can be operated in zero-emissions, full-electric drive mode from zero to 62 mph. In addition, the system’s configuration doesn’t need a high-capacity electric motor and generator, reducing both weight and cost.