A standalone hydrogen Kia is scheduled to go on sale within four years as part of attempts to cut CO2 emissions
14 February 2017

Kia will bring a bespoke hydrogen fuel-cell car to market before the end of 2021.

Speaking to Autocar ahead of the Geneva motor show, the company’s head of marketing in Europe, Artur Martins, confirmed that development of a new fuel cell car was under way.

Although he stopped short of confirming any specifics about the new car, Martins said it would be a 'bigger' model which would be capable of housing conventional combustion engines, as well as hybrid and electric options and, crucially, a fuel cell, too.

The 2021 model will get its own distinctive look to signify its eco credentials. “It is not clear what kind of bodystyle the cars will have, but it will be dedicated models rather than using an existing donor car as we do now with the ix35,” said Kia's head of fuel cell research, Dr Sae-Hoon Kim. He cited the example of the Toyota Mirai as highlighting the benefits of a bespoke fuel cell car, most notably because of the ability to design with extra cooling requirements in mind.

The upcoming Kia's next-generation hydrogen fuel stack will be similar in size to a 2.0-litre combustion engine, but despite being 15% more compact and lighter will deliver around 10% more performance. Range between refuellings is expected to be some 500 miles, and top speed around 105mph.

Given the popularity of large SUVs in Europe, and that by the turn of the decade Kia’s Sorento will be due for replacement, that car would seem to be a frontrunner to receive this hybrid technology. Martins said that despite it being Kia’s halo model, a fuel cell version of the upcoming Stinger sports saloon isn’t planned.

Martins also confirmed that if the new model was successful, it would “make sense to start applying it to other products,” opening the door for more fuel cell models from Kia in the future.

Read our first drive in the Kia Optima PHEV here

Kia already has a fuel cell car in its model range, the Borrego FCEV SUV, which is the sister car to Hyundai’s ix55 large SUV, and while neither model is sold in Europe, the two companies have been using the technology since the 1990s.

Kia's ambitious CO2 reduction target will result in 70% of the firm’s current line-up of engines being replaced over the next four years, as well as the launch of seven new hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery-electric and fuel cell cars. More efficient multi-speed transmissions are also being developed. The total investment in the new projects is reported to be £6.7 billion, and Kia says it will create 'thousands' of jobs to hit its targets.

Kia's plans for a bespoke fuel cell car stretch back to 2014, when officials confirmed that plans were afoot for the new model. At the time, it was thought that the new model wouldn’t share parts with a sister car from Hyundai.

Darren Moss and Jim Holder

Join the debate


17 November 2015
".... with the latter bringing its ix35 fuel cell car to market this year ....Kia is targeting global sales of 1000 cars a year for its first mass produced hydrogen vehicle in 2020" so between 2015 and 2020 they plan to ramp up to no more than 1000 hydrogen vechicles a year worldwide. Sounds like a profitable venture, give up now and spend all development money on the plug-in else get left with alot of hydrogen on your hands. By 2020 run of the mill EV's will have a 200 mile range and still cost around 2p-3p a mile.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

14 February 2017
I don't know why they're bothering with this. The infrastructure for hydrogen won't be there, and it's not as efficient as a battery EV which will take its energy straight from solar.


14 February 2017
I'm guessing that, for that sort of money, they know something that most people don't.

14 February 2017
[quote=TBC]I'm guessing that, for that sort of money, they know something that most people don't.[/quote] They know that fuel cells give more zero-emissions credits than current battery-electrics. The RoK government also funds a lot of fuel cell research every year, much of which goes to Hyundai/Kia, being their biggest transport company. Final thing, they've been working on fuel cell vehicles for around 20 years, at which time nobody had any idea that electric cars would eventually be able to charge at 350kW, drive for hundreds of miles and last for hundreds of thousands of miles. With such a long timespan of investment in hydrogen behind them, they'd be mad not to try to make a return on it.

15 February 2017
Found this jem from 2012 on the website FuelCellWorks, or as I put it FuelCellWorksInLaLaLand. “If distribution is in place by 2015, Kia says it has plans to build more than 10,000 fuel-cell vehicles a year in the initial stages, expanding to 100,000 a year shortly after.”. So Kia thought they’d be knocking out over 100,000 Hydrogen Fuel cars this year when in reality they’re knocking out 10. Enough said.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

15 February 2017
BEV as a technology is late tenths of years and it looks it is over the hill. BEV produced in 1904 had similiar output as nowdays BEV. :) Batteries cannot solve for example freight transport. Instead of that Hydrogen fuel cell technology is much younger than batteries and can solve freight, longer term energy storage for households and comerial buldings as well.

20 February 2017
There's almost as many hydrogen cars on the road today as there was over 200 years ago. 90% of peoples need can be solved by EV's meaning Freight pollution will be less of a problem so as in a hundred years time trucks could go the Hydrogen way. Either way the Hydrogen car was a unrealistic expensive dream that people are finally waking up to. "BEV produced in 1904 had similiar output as nowdays BEV" yea I remember the Telsa Mk1 in 1905, took 2.5 second to get to 60

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

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