Kia will launch a dedicated hybrid crossover vehicle before the end of 2016, according to officials from the South Korean car maker.
Autocar reports the new model, known internally as ‘DE’, will be based on a unique platform. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, and feature a new-generation automatic transmission.
The report claims a conventional hybrid version will be joined further down the track by a plug-in hybrid model with a larger battery pack.
The all-new petrol-electric model will measure approximately 4.3 metres from nose to tail, and is said to be styled like a crossover version of a small wagon, similar to the Peugeot 2008.
The car is intended to help Kia achieve its goal of reducing its fleet CO2 emissions in Europe to 95 grams per kilometre by 2020.
Set to be sold globally, the compact crossover will also aim to steal sales from the world’s top-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius.
Kia says its market research has shown that many Prius buyers would like a dedicated hybrid model with less extreme styling, even if it means sacrificing some fuel efficiency.
Those findings have influenced Kia’s design team, and senior company sources claim DE was given a “good validation” when subjected to customer research in the UK.
Autocar reports the platform used to underpin DE will find its way beneath a range of different body styles in the future.
Kia unveiled the diesel-electric Optima T-Hybrid sedan at last month’s Paris motor show and confirmed plans to put the powertrain into mass production in the near future.
The South Korean manufacturer already makes a petrol-powered Optima Hybrid, though it is not currently available in Australia and remains a low priority for our market.
Note: Kia Niro concept pictured.