2011 Kia SorentoEnlarge Photo
What do you do when you're already one of the most value-conscious carmakers on the market? You set a goal to pack in more technology than even luxury marques can manage, and do it all in under three years. Or at least that's what you do if you're Kia.
According to reports still emerging from the floor of the Frankfurt auto show, Kia has laid plans to put a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain into production by 2012. Other carmakers, notably Volkswagen with its Golf TDI Hybrid and BMW with the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, have explored the diesel-hybrid field, but production decisions have been mostly shut down due to concerns over the expense of such a system.
Kia apparently has no such concerns, and plans to have a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain on the road by 2012, according to the reports. The engine used is expected to be similar to the one shown off in the Sorento hybrid on display at Frankfurt: a twin-turbo 161-horsepower 1.6-liter diesel. A dual-clutch gearbox could help manage the hand-off of power between electric motor and the diesel engine.
For more on the current Sorento (pictured), which is an obvious candidate for the diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, check out yesterday's 2011 Kia Sorento first drive with High Gear Media Executive Editor Marty Padgett.
Going to a diesel-electric hybrid may actually be the cost-effective answer as the other major car manufacturers turn their attention to even more expensive plug-in hybrids which rely on fossil-fueled engines only as range-extending electricity generators. By using a smaller battery pack and a diesel engine, Kia may be able to match their efficiency with lower up-front and long-term expenses.
Also in the cards for the next two years is an all-electric powertrain, though Kia is so far holding that info close to its chest. Borrowing from sister-company Hyundai's research and development in the all-electric field may yield a city-car EV as early as 2011.