Kia Not Ready To Move To Full-Electrification Just Yet

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In the meantime, the Korean automaker is investing heavily in hybrid technology.

Kia has a bold plan to expand its all-electric lineup beyond the Niro EV and Soul EV. By 2027, the Korean automaker wants to be one of the EV market leaders by launching as many as seven new fully electric models. Before making the jump to EVs, Kia is investing heavily in hybrid technology.

As part of a massive €70 million ($85 million) investment, Kia has implemented a range of upgrades to its vehicle and engine production plant in Ailina, Slovakia that will enable the site to produce and assemble new hybrid gasoline engines on three production lines, while a fourth will be dedicated to Kia's new Smartstream 1.6-liter diesel engine. In the US, Kia already offers its electrified Smarstream engine in the new Sorento, combining a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a 1.49-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and a 44.2-kW electric motor. Combined, this setup produces 226 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Kia
Kia

A 2.2-liter Smartstream diesel variant will also be sold in Europe, but won't be available in the US. Kia's 48V diesel mild-hybrid powertrains are also offered in the Kia Ceed and Sportage in Europe.

A new electrified 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will also be produced at the plant, with both units designed to integrate with Kia's 48V mild-hybrid system. "Continued investment in our Slovakia plant will help us to meet the changing demands of European drivers," said Emilio Herrera, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Motors Europe. "We have already seen a marked increase in demand for electrified petrol vehicles. This investment in advanced powertrain production unlocks our ability to bring electrification to a wider customer base."

In Europe, more than a quarter of Kia's cars sold are electrified, so Kia's investment will help the manufacturer prepare for that number to increase rapidly over the next few years.

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Kia's new 1.5-liter T-GDi engine replaces the current 1.4-liter T-GDi, and will be added to various models in the future. With 157 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, the new engine is 14 percent more powerful, has 4.5 percent more power, and is up to seven percent more efficient than the current 1.4-liter version. The new 1.5 engine is a development of Kia's existing 1.6-liter T-GDi engine, which features Smartstream hybrid technology that reduces fuel consumption by up to eight percent and increases the output from 174 hp to 177 hp. Future models will also be available with mild-hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

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