Kia Motors has announced plans to become a leader in the low emissions car market by 2020 - including launching a hybrid utility vehicle, Niro.
The manufacturer anticipates that the five-year development plan will see it further increase its investment in research and development into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.
The new investment by Hyundai Motor Group, Kia’s parent company, totals £6.2 million, for the development of a range of new eco-friendly models and building the facilities required for the brand’s efforts to further reduce its CO2 output.
Ki-Sang Lee, senior vice-president, eco-friendly vehicle R&D centre, Kia Motors Corporation, said: “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, and this investment will enable Kia to meet the growing demand with a range of advanced new products and technologies.
“We don’t believe that there is any one ‘silver bullet’ that can satisfy the demand for low emission technology within the car industry, so we foresee a wide range of eco-friendly powertrains co-existing for an extended period of time.
"The plans we’ve announced today represent Kia’s ambition to become a worldwide leader in advanced propulsion technology.”
By 2020, Kia’s current green car line-up is expected to grow from four current models to 11.
This expanded range of environmentally-friendly vehicles will encompass a wide range of advanced powertrains, from hybrids and plug-in hybrids to battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.
Before 2020, Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation petrol and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines.
Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.
The first models to be launched featuring new types of powertrains under the brand’s 2020 vision for low emissions cars will be the Kia Optima PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which will feature a high capacity lithium-polymer battery pack and electric motor, and the Niro hybrid utility vehicle (HUV), which will target CO2 emissions of 90g/km.
Niro, which is due to be unveiled next year, will pair the manufacturer's 1.6 GDI petrol engine (105hp) with a 1.56kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and 32kW electric motor.
Production of Niro is scheduled to start in late 2016, while a plug-in hybrid powertrain is due to be added to the car's line-up later in its lifecycle.
Kia is targeting a 2020 launch for mass production of an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, featuring next-generation hydrogen fuel stack technology.
The manufacturer is working alongside 300 partner companies to develop the next-generation FCEV technology for global markets.
Production of the new Kia FCEV is aimed to be around 1,000 units per year, a figure expected to rise as demand for fuel cell vehicles increases.
Kia’s FCEV will feature a fuel stack similar in size to a 2.0-litre internal combustion engine, which development teams believe will offer drivers a high level of durability and power density from the advanced powertrain.
Kia engineers are planning to develop the brand’s next-generation fuel cell stack to be 5% more efficient and offer 10% greater stack performance, despite being around 15% lighter and 15% lower in volume, compared to current generation fuel cell stacks.
The result is a targeted range of more than 500 miles from a single fill-up and a top speed of around 106mph.