The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show meant the official debut of the all-new 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid, firm’s first hybrid vehicle for the United States market.
Just like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the new 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid comes with a 2.4-liter petrol engine that can provide up to 166 hp of output and up to 265 Nm (195.4 lb.-ft.) of peak torque, mated to a small electric motor which drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 30 kW Interior Permanent Magnet (IPM) synchronous electric motor of 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid delivers up to 40.7 PS of max output and 205 Nm of peak torque available from zero to 1,400 rpm in electric mode.
The engine in the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid can push the car to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 9.2 seconds and to a top speed of 121 mph or 194 km/h. The car offers an Electric Mode, but when this is turned off, the Hybrid Starter motor/Generator (HSG) starts the petrol engine and the clutch is closed, and the engine takes over the task to propel the car.
In addition, the electric motor switches into hybrid operation and serves as both a secondary engine but also as a generator to recharge the battery pack if necessary. If the car comes to a stop for more than few seconds, the petrol engine is automatically turned off.
Furthermore, the electric motor in the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid can convert kinetic energy into electricity and store it in the battery pack. The electric motor sits within the car’s extended transmission casing (between the petrol engine and the automatic gearbox) and is the world’s first oil-cooled system. The Optima Hybrid comes with a lithium polymer battery array developed in partnership with LG Chem in South Korea.
The lithium polymer battery of the 2011 Optima Hybrid boasts of being lighter and more compact. In fact, the lithium polymer battery pack – with a power capacity of 30 kW -- weighs just 43.6 kilograms, or around 1.7 kg lighter than the nickel metal hydride pack of 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid. In fact, the battery of Optima Hybrid can hold its charge up to 25 percent longer than hybrids powered by nickel metal hydride batteries. Furthermore, Lithium polymer has less of the self-discharge elements in most rechargeable batteries.
According to Kia, the battery pack will not require replacing during the vehicle’s lifespan – at least 10 years and 150,000 miles. The complete hybrid system is controlled by the Optima’s Hybrid Control Unit (HCU).