Kia’s European arm is looking to introduce 48V mild-hybrid powertrains, starting with the current Sportage and next-generation Cee’d – according to a new report out of the UK.
Speaking with Auto Express, Kia’s research and development boss, Woong Chul Yang, said the Korean manufacturer is looking to add the mild-hybrid options to meet ever-tightening European emissions laws.
Meanwhile, the all-electric version of the Niro SUV – previewed this week by the Niro EV concept (above) at CES – is set to launch in Europe before the end of the year, featuring a 64kWh battery pack.
Kia’s R&D boss also hinted to the British publication the Niro EV could also come with a smaller battery option to bring the price of entry down and appeal more to those who only drive short distances.
“Having two battery outputs is something we are thinking about. Sometimes we put too much battery [capacity] into cars, we put heavier batteries that add weight,” Yang said.
“If people drive just 100 miles (160km), then that kind of use doesn’t need big batteries. People who are short range driving all the time, it makes sense to have smaller batteries.”
When asked about a 32kWh battery, Yang said that despite halving the capacity, the range wouldn’t be cut in two.
“This is a lot lighter so the range isn’t cut by two,” he said, “Because it’s lighter, the range will not reduce by half.”
“A Stonic EV is being thought about. The Stonic has a very good fit for electrification,” Yang said.
Yang also confirmed that Kia is working on solid-state battery technology, but is still in the very stages of development.
“The [current lithium-ion] battery technology is mature, and the next step, the next big leap is solid state,” he said.
These four models would form part of the 16 electrified vehicles Kia has committed to release before 2025 – including five EVs, five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and one hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCEV) – the latter due by 2020.
CarAdvice contacted Kia’s local division regarding Australian prospects for mild-hybrid technology should it become available.
While nothing was able to be confirmed at this early stage, Kevin Hepworth, general manager for corporate communications at Kia Australia, said the local arm is always open to new products in the portfolio where appropriate.
“We never say never and if the opportunity to have a closer look at this technology should arise then we would certainly take the time to study it,” he said.
Given the Sportage is one of the brand’s top sellers and no vehicle in the medium SUV segment offers an electrified option yet, Kia may have a great opportunity to pioneer the technology Down Under in the coming years.
We’re still waiting on the Optima PHEV (above) too **cough cough**