LA Show 2010: KIA Launches Optima Hybrid. Good for 40 mpg on highway

by Alex

With “green” being the current trend with cars all over the world, KIA has launched its very first hybrid car for the US markets. The car, named Optima Hybrid, is a perfect combination of the handsome look of the original car with a blend of various modern technologies. The car known for its “green” nature lives up to its name and guzzles only a 40 mpg (5.88 lit/100 km) on the highways.

Michael Sprague, the vice president in marketing & communications of KMA has stated that Optima, the first of its kind in the US markets is offering three strong fuel efficient options and carrying the legacy of KIA producing cars with great looks and the ultimate performance.

The Hybrid is based on a parallel hybrid system. The car can run on full-electric mode generating a moderate speed of 62 mph (100 km/h). The introduction of the stop/start functions in the car prevents wastage of valuable fuel.

Unlike the other hybrids which use nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion battery, the Optima uses an advanced version in the form of lithium-polymer solution, which can hold a large amount of charge (30 kW) for a much longer time. The battery pack has another merit, which being its light weight. Weighing only 95.9 pounds or 43 kg, it is 28 pounds or 13 kg lighter than the battery pack provided by Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The other name of the car is unconventional. Unlike other cars of the same class using a power-split hybrid system in Ford and Toyota Models, KIA has opted for a Transmission-Mounted-Electric-Drive (TMED) layout. The advantage of TMED is that its electric motor is separate from the gearbox.

The advantage of the brand new setup is that it is space efficient and is compatible with the off the shelf parts of the car. The setup is also cost efficient.

The electric motor in the car is incorporated with the transmission setup. Thus the setup, strictly running on electricity delivers a peak power of about 40 hp (30 kW) and a maximum torque of 151 lb-ft (205 Nm). Combined with the 2.4-liter Atkinson Cycle gasoline unit the car can generate a maximum power of 206 hp and a torque of 195 lb-ft (264 Nm).

The car is also facilitated by an 8.5 kW belt-driven Hybrid-Starter-Generator (HSG). Though it is incapable of driving the car but it can ignite the engine and can recharge the car battery. Thus, gone are the days where you’d have to worry about your car battery going berserk.

The Optima Hybrid is capable of recovering lost energy during braking, a technology similar to that of the Volkswagen Golf Blue e-motion. On application of the brakes, the engine and the traction motor is decoupled and this energy is hence used to charge the battery.

KIA has provided the brand new Optima Hybrid with lower front and rear spoilers, redesigned front grille and headlamps, side skirts, unique 16-inch alloys and LED tail lamps.

The Optima Hybrid is provided with a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS). This system is capable of playing a pre-recorded piece of engine sound while on full electricity mode to alert people about an approaching car.

The pricing and many more details of the car will be released by KIA soon. The Hybrid is all set to hit the US streets next year.

Source: carscoop

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