Kia is finalising development work on its first all-electric car which is scheduled to be launched in 2014. Based on the next-generation Soul, the car is expected to be officially launched next spring at either the Chicago or New York auto shows.
While disguised Soul development cars from Kia’s German technical HQ at Russelsheim have been spotted on UK roads in recent weeks, Kia has also just launched its first petrol-electric hybrid in Europe.
The Mondeo-class Optima HEV, which unfortunately will not be sold in the UK, has been on sale in the US and South Korea for the last 20 months.
It’s powered by a 148bhp Atkinson cycle petrol engine, a 39bhp electric motor and an unusual lithium-polymer battery pack: Kia claims emissions of just 125g/km.
So confident is Kia about its hybrid, that it comes with the company’s transferrable seven-year warranty on the vehicle and its battery.
Kia believes sales of hybrid electric vehicles will continue to grow across Europe, rising 80% from the 72,000 units sold in 2008 to an estimated 129,000 units this year.
It’s quite clear though that those figures merely highlight the fact hybrids remain a minority taste in Europe’s new car market.