Kia planning fuel cell and hybrid models, on sale by 2013
15 October 2008

Kia plans to have both a fuel cell car and a Prius-style standalone hybrid on sale by 2013, senior company executives said today.

The first new model will be a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car. Ambitious plans for the new car include delivering power using four in-wheel electric motors and giving it a 370 mile fuel range.

Kia’s engineering team is also confident that it can get round the biggest disadvantage of fuel cells, extreme cold starts, with this model designed to be able to start in temperatures as low as minus 30 Celcius.

Kia intends to follow Honda’s business model with the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity: leasing the new car, and initially targetting it at 1000 US owners a year. The company is planning a rapid expansion of production, and wants to be making 10,000 fuel cell vehicles a year by 2015.

The hybrid model will be a ‘plug-in’, capable of charging off the mains to extend its all-electric range, and will probably be sold globally. Before then, Kia plans to ‘hybridise’ its existing US lineup, with a hybrid version of the Forte saloon due next year.

However the company is planning to bring petrol-electric power to Europe, probably beginning with a hybrid version of the next Magentis in 2011.

Chas Hallett

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