The Picanto was launched in 2004 after replacing the Kia Visto, and apart from a slight facelift in 2007 the model remains as a first generation car although, the next generation will go on sale in 2011, followed by electric versions in 2012.
The Picanto is actually based on a shortened platform of Hyundai’s Getz and is related to the current Hyundai i10 with several powertrains available including 1.0-litre and 1.1-litre versions.
For those wanting a little more grunt in their city commuter, there is a 3-cylinder diesel engine with direct injection and variable geometry turbocharger (55kW), which has been available in Europe since 2004.
The latest 50kw lithium polymer battery, said to be smaller and produce more power than Lithium-ion versions, will power the electric Picanto.
Kia will also produce a ‘hot’ version with an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine boasting 110 bhp.
And get ready for other ‘green’ powertrains from the Kia car company as they gear up for diesel hybrids for the European market within the next two years.
As what insiders say was a precursor to this event, Kia launched the LPG hybrid Forte (Cerato in Australia) in their own domestic market in 2009 in readiness for diesel hybrids.
More importantly, the Forte is the world’s first and only liquefied petroleum injection hybrid, which also employs the advanced lithium polymer battery and is Kia’s own proprietary system.
Not only that, but Kia is already trialing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Korea and the United States and expects to be selling cars with this technology before the end of this decade.
Plug-in hybrids are also on trial in Korea with sales expected to commence in early 2013.
If we are to believe those that say Hyundai will be the world’s largest car company within 5 years, then you would have to also believe that Kia won’t be far behind.