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Kia prepares to launch green vehicles


Kia has launched a programme that will see a raft of green vehicles hit markets around the world as it bids to take a lead as an environmental car maker

Kia says it is investing in a major environmental programme that will result in a raft of ‘green’ vehicles being launched over the next three years.

More than NZ$5billion is being put into the newly announced environmental technology programme in conjunction with sister company Hyundai, with the aim of establishing the group as one of the world’s top four manufacturers of low emission vehicles by 2012.

That’s the year Kia says it will introduce its first production fuel cell-powered electric vehicle.

Kia has been running test-bed fuel cell vehicles for several years and recently unveiled its most advanced model yet, with a reported range of more than 560 kilometres from a single tank of hydrogen, which is used to provide the electricity for the motive power. Although fuel cells vehicles burn hydrogen, there are no harmful emissions produced in the process, only water vapour.

In addition to fuel cell development, Kia is also refining other ‘green’ technologies, including the stop-start ISG option already on sale in Europe and soon to be seen in other markets, with New Zealand aiming to be on the list – this turns off the engine instead of idling at traffic lights or stopped in queues and restarts when the clutch is depressed.

Additionally, Kia has just introduced a hybrid Cerato (pictured) that runs on more environmentally-friendly LPG, instead of petrol, in conjunction with an electric motor.

Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand says he expects to see Kia models displaying some of the new ‘green’ technology developments arrive in this market within the next 18 months.

“The ISG stop-start technology is likely to be among the first here, because it is already being offered on some Kia models in European markets,” he says.

“We are also looking at the possibility of introducing a Kia hybrid vehicle at some point – the Australians are studying the LPG-hybrid Cerato, but with the lack of refueling stations here we may hold on for the plug-in hybrid. And much as we would all like to see Kia vehicles powered by fuel cells in New Zealand, the main issue again would be the need to establish completely new Hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

“However, there are many other advanced technologies to reduce emissions that we will definitely see in conventional Kia models in the very near future, such as the generation three CRD diesel engines that offer fuel savings of up to 15% and similar reductions in CO2 levels – one of the most advanced diesel engines in the world. And we haven’t seen the best of petrol engine technology, yet – leaner burn, direct injection and turbo-charging all offer significant ways to ‘green’ an engine."

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