Kia boosting hybrid; electric rides by 2020

Kia is increasing its plans to get into the market and it is continuing its plans to significantly increase the number of green cars in its future lineup. The company is the child company of Hyundai and they hope to become the second biggest seller of green cars worldwide after Toyota.  This is going to involve more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars and some hydrogen fuel-sell cars.

Michael Cole, in a tellurian lineup’s European trainer pronounced, “the sum will embody new variants of existent models, such as a hybrid chronicle of a Kia Optima hire automobile sole in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid chronicle of a Niro hybrid application vehicle”.

The total of this is going to include a new variant of existing models, such as a hybrid version of the Kia Optima station wagon sold in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro Hybrid utility vehicle. Its hybrid and plug-in hybrid power trains are lifted from the Hyundai Sonata, which shares a platform with the Optima.

In 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid model and Kia calls it a crossover, but the Niro’s styling is somewhere between wagon and SUV, and it will launch with only front-wheel drive available. The Soul EV will most likely be the only battery-electric model for now. The electric version of the funky compact Soul is only sold at certain dealers in the U.S states deemed by Kia to be sufficiently electric-car-friendly. European boss Cole also said Kia will launch its first production hydrogen fuel-cell car “around 2020.”

The proposal suggests that the new model would likely use the second-generation fuel-cell power train being developed for parent Hyundai’s next hydrogen model. The next fuel cell Hyundai is expected to roll out in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in South Korea. A Kia variant would likely follow, though little else is known about it at this point. Hyundai has hinted that its next fuel-cell vehicle will be another crossover, replacing the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Kia may follow Hyundai’s lead and offer a fuel-cell crossover as well, but no details about the model have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the launch of the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric power trains will likely go a long way toward meeting Hyundai/Kia’s ambitious green-car goal.

Here’s and example as to how Kia is setting up measures of creating hybrids, the 2017 Kia Niro cuts a fine example on how the strategy is working slowly but on the right track.

 The 2017 Kia Niro:

The 2017 Kia Niro is a dedicated subcompact hybrid crossover; the only one on the market, and it offers a good way to combine high fuel efficiency with ever-more-popular crossover styling.

The 2017 Kia Niro breaks new ground as the first dedicated hybrid crossover SUV–which is to say, there’s no gasoline-only Niro. It joins the world’s limited roster of dedicated hybrids, which is headed by the Toyota Prius, now in its fourth generation. The latest entry besides the Niro is the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, which shares underpinnings with the new Niro.

Given the surging popularity of car-based crossover utility vehicles, the subcompact Niro may find an audience among buyers of small SUVs who want high fuel efficiency–Kia is targeting an EPA rating of 50 mpg combined–but avoid conventional hatchbacks. While the newest Kia has a crossover shape, however, Kia has not yet mentioned offering all-wheel drive–but we suspect it’s on the way. And for the smallest SUVs, often used mostly in cities, that may not be as much of a drawback as for larger family haulers.

The lines of the Kia Niro neatly split the difference between what could be considered a conventional wagon and a genuine utility vehicle. It’s just thick enough through the cowl and front end to qualify as a sleek crossover, led off by the characteristic Kia grille and etched in smoothly rounded lines. Think of it as a sleeker, butcher version of the similarly sized Kia Soul tall wagon, if you like.

 

Power train:

That power train uses a 103-horsepower direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, running on the ultra-efficient Atkinson Cycle, combined with the company’s own six-speed dual-clutch transmission. In between those two components, a 32-kilowatt (43-hp) electric motor contributes its own torque and can propel the car on its own under some driving conditions. Kia quotes combined power output at 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The company said its “strong and confident” look is atypical of dedicated hybrids, and indeed there’s almost nothing in its lines to indicate the advanced powertrain underneath. Despite the crossover shape, though, Kia says careful aerodynamic work has reduced the drag coefficient to 0.29, low for any kind of utility vehicle.

Bottom Line:

Kia seems like a pretty confident brand guided by its parent company, Hyundai. The company seems to have plenty of promise and potential that should give a boost of hybrid cars by the year 2020.

Pioneers of Autonomous Cars

The field of driverless cars has been developing at an incredibly fast pace. Up until the early 2010’s, Google remained the sole proponent for fully autonomous cars. However, come CES 2014, BMW soon showcased their advancements in the field as well. As a result, other mainstream manufacturers soon jumped the bandwagon and have begun their in-house development of autonomous cars. We take a look at the current players playing an active role in bringing driverless cars to the general public.

Google

One of the earliest advocates for autonomous driving technology, tech giant Google has been tweaking and testing its driverless car for a few years now. Prior to its current in-house developed super mini, Google made use of existing cars such as Toyota Prius and the Lexus RX450h and retrofitted each of them with sensors, cameras and specialized hardware to allow for autonomous capabilities.

The Google driverless car
The Google driverless car

Soon after, Google developed its very own bespoke car to continue with its experiments and showcase what its fully production ready car might look like. The Google car is a small hatch with a neutral color paint job. Unlike other manufacturers that provide a manual override in the form of a steering wheel and conventional pedals, Google’s driverless car features nothing of the sort. A sign of complete confidence from the maker in its abilities. The car features no distinct features save for two ‘eyes’ and a ‘nose’. The main purpose of the car’s “cutesy” design is to disarm the general public.

The car make’s use of a dizzying array of sensors and cameras to map the road ahead. The on-board computer then processes this information with pre-existing map data to create an inch perfect replica of its immediate surroundings. Some computation is even performed on remote server locations. Each Google car is fitted with sensor equipment worth over $150,000.

BMW

Although Google may have been one of the first endorsers of driverless vehicles, recent reports suggest that the tech supergiant is not leading horse of this race. Mainstream manufacturers such as BMW may have a higher probability of launching a fully autonomous car for commercial purposes. Unlike the Google car that focused primary on city driving, BMW’s initiative proved a bit more entertaining. The self-driving car in its most advanced avatar was showcased at CES 2014 in the form of a live demo. The Bavarian car maker managed to develop a system that mapped a certain race track and “learnt” the quickest possible routes. Similar to Google’s self-driving car, BMW’s autonomous 2 Series and 6 Series were fitted with a host of sensors that generate a 3D map of the car’s surroundings.

BMW's ultimate "drifting" machine
BMW’s ultimate “drifting” machine

Tesla

Tesla’s entry into the autonomous vehicle industry was rather unexpected. Unlike other manufacturers that advertised the upcoming technology, Elon Musk quietly added an autopilot mode for the Model S in a recent update that allowed near complete autonomous driving. However, human intervention is required from time to time. However, with the addition of the feature, Tesla has officially joined the race.

Tesla Model S P85D
The new Tesla Model S models come with auto pilot

Ford

Ford has had a late start in the autonomous vehicle segment. Ford and one other South Korean car maker are the only two manufacturers on this list that cater to a wider spectrum of car buyers. With Ford’s entry this year, we may see small instances of autonomous driving technologies such as fully driverless parking and retrieval in budget cars such as the Fiesta or Taurus.

Ford has only recently jumped into the driverless car band wagon
Ford has only recently jumped into the driverless car band wagon

Kia

South Korean car maker Kia is the other budget manufacturer to begin testing its autonomous vehicular technology. Although Ford’s and Kia’s development phases have only just begun, 2016 provides far more resources and information regarding autonomous driving technology than all the previous years. As such, the manufacturers are now able to work with more than what most car makers began with.

Kia is a South Korean car maker under Hyundai's ownership
Kia is a South Korean car maker under Hyundai’s ownership

Audi

Audi is one of the only manufacturers on this list to have actually released its autonomous fleet to the media. As part of an event, a few journalists were offered a ride from Las Vegas to CES 2015. An interesting feature of Audi’s system is the inclusion of two cameras that constantly monitor the driver’s eyes. Should the driver close his eyes, the car begins beeping loudly and comes to a complete halt following which the car switches its hazard lights on.

Audi's fleet of autonomous cars ferried journalists from Las Vegas to CES
Audi’s fleet of autonomous cars ferried journalists from Las Vegas to CES

As with most new technologies, the latent complications and ethical dilemmas of various scenarios are yet to be fully explored. Similar to the internet, Einstein’s mass-energy equation and programming, autonomous vehicles are also susceptible to misuse. As such, fears of the public are not unfounded. However, one must progress and the only direction is forwards.