Kamis, 09 April 2009

Kia introduces production Forte LPI Hybrid in South Korea

Kia Forte LPI hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

Kia has just introduced its first mass production hybrid model based on the new Forte compact sedan in its home market of South Korea. The Forte LPI hybrid uses a smaller 20-hp version of the hybrid system that Hyundai showed at the LA Auto Show last November. That system uses a pancake motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission for electric drive and boost as well as regenerative braking. A separate, integrated starter generator handles auto start-stop duties.

The Forte hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine fueled by liquefied petroleum gas (propane) and is the first production vehicle to use a lithium polymer battery. The new battery was developed by LG Chem and will also be used in the Sonata Hybrid when it debuts next year. Along with the hybrid Forte, Kia rolled out new eco-Dynamics branding for its more efficient vehicles including hybrids.

While it's unlikely we'll ever see an LPG-equipped car from Kia in the U.S. market, it does seem likely that a Forte hybrid with a gas engine will arrive at some point. We've contacted Kia for comment on that but have yet to get a response. Thanks to Mike for the tip!

The New Kia Forte Sport Sedan - (Global)

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What looks like official images of the upcoming replacement for the Kia Spectra & Cerato Sedan, the Kia Forte, has just appeared on clubforte.co.kr

With styling evident from the 2007 Kia Koup concept, the car is the work of Design Director Peter Schreyer, who previously worked at Audi for 25 years and created the award winning original Audi TT.

The car is due to be revealed in Korea on the 21st of August before going on sale shortly after in other markets. In America it will replace the current Spectra and within a couple of months of going on sale the 2 door Coupe variant should join it.

With the new Kia Soul also on sale late 2008 to early 2009 depending on market, Kia is certainly a brand on the move. The timing of these cars couldn’t be better, with large vehicle sales reducing in America. Notably, Kia was one of only a few brands that experienced a sales growth in the US for the month of June, with an increase of 7.6% over the same period last year.

Kia Shows Off Forte Hybrid, Plans For Hydrogen Fuel Cell And Plug-In Vehicles

Kia Forte hybrid unveiled

Kia Forte hybrid unveiled

Enlarge Photo
Kia Forte hybrid

Kia Forte hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Not to be outdone by Nissan's fairly jaw-dropping announcement of EVs and infrastructure earlier this week, Kia unveiled its new Forte hybrid yesterday. It's a liquefied petroleum/electric combo, and it's set to hit lots in South Korea this August. Here are some of the tech details that we know you folks crave:

The Forte LPI hybrid electric vehicle is powered by an economical mild-hybrid drive system consisting of 1.6L gasoline engine and electric motor. The Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) engine generates 114 horsepower, while electric motor brings additional 20 hp. Equipped with this kind of hybrid system and continuously variable transmission, the Forte achieves a very competitive fuel economy rating of 17.2 kilometers per liter of LPG fuel (41 MPG US), which is equivalent to 21.5 kilometers per liter fuel economy in terms of gasoline, the company said.

The company has no plans to bring the Forte hybrid to the U.S. yet--or anywhere else that doesn't have "an excellent LPG distribution infrastructure". Which apparently means China's the only other country on the list. Sad news for hybrid fans, but good news for design freaks. (Seriously: take a good look. Still awake?)

At the same press event, Kia announced:

  • In 2010, the company will launch its first full-hybrid car (likely based on the Optima).
  • In 2012, Kia will produce both a hydrogen fuel cell and a plug-in hybrid.
  • These vehicles are all projects of Kia's new eco-conscious sub-brand, Eco-Dynamics.

That's a lot of news for one lil' ol' day.

P.S. A quick note to Kia-World: please explain to your writers the difference between "its" and "it's". It's one of our pet peeves.

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