Kia lays out plans for a low emission future

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Kia eco vehicles

Kia is the latest manufacturer to jump on the eco bandwagon in recent weeks with the news that it plans on becoming the leader in the low emissions car market by 2020.

Announcing that its green car line-up is set to expand from four to 11 models within the next five years, the firm is also aiming at other low emission vehicles with the ambitious target of a hydrogen fuel cell, pure electric and hybrid models across its entire range. Oh, and introducing a fully autonomous car by 2030. These are bold plans for a company which is still relatively new to the mainstream market.

While a pure electric car is yet to be announced by Kia, it has revealed that the first car to be launched under this new green scheme will be the Niro; a brand new hybrid compact crossover. Rather than the traditional SUV approach,  a whole new segment has been created here, called HUV (Hybrid Utility Vehicle), and has been designed to be the first useable hybrid SUV, aimed at combining the practicality of an SUV with the emissions and fuel costs of a hybrid.

Kia Niro Production Model Rendering (front quarter)
The firm’s rendering of the Niro – a hybrid SUV, or ‘HUV’

Details about the Niro are sketchy but Kia has confirmed that it will be powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine coupled to a 32 kW electric motor and that it will be striking yet familiar in appearance. Basically they haven’t finished the exterior design yet, but they still have 12 months to perfect it…

The rather more surprising development in Kia’s future strategy is the fuel cell vehicle. Although a hydrogen fuel cell car is not a new idea, it will still be one of the very few on the market when launched and Kia is keen to capitalise on that fact, with an aimed production of 1000 a year with room for manoeuvre depending on demand.

All this new forward thinking and planning doesn’t come cheap however, as Kia has been given $10.2billion by parent company Hyundai to fund the new business plan. That is some serious cash so it shows Kia means business.

Ki-Sang Lee, Senior Vice President, Eco Friendly Vehicle R&D Center, Kia Motors Corporation (great job title) stated, “Global market demand is shifting to electric vehicles, with oil prices predicted to rise in future. The electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle market will grow rapidly in the coming years.”  He is right of course and this is why Kia, and many more to come, will look at the future of their companies and decide to take the green route. The future is looking green, whether you like it or not.