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  • 12 August 2016

    Kia Future Plans: Focusing On Hydrogen Fuel Technology

    The Kia brand has become extremely popular in recent years and it’s now the second largest manufacturer in South Korea after Hyundai. With its growing popularity, Kia has some exciting plans lined up for the future which could be a game changer for the South Korean brand.

    The first plan for Kia is to put more focus on hydrogen fuel cell technology in an attempt to develop more sustainable, greener powertrains. Engineering boss Albert Biermann, speaking at an event at Kia’s R&D centre in Namyang, South Korea, said “Are we working on a Tesla fighter like everybody else? At this point, I can tell you: no, we are not working on it. But I would not exclude this for all times - when the time comes we can just do it. We have our own eco powertrain development centre, and we’re also developing a hydrogen fuel cell car for the Kia side.”

    Even though there isn’t a powerful all-electric model in the pipelines just yet, Kia is moving forward with other alternative fuels such as hydrogen. This is following the footsteps of other well-known car brands such as Kia’s sister brand, Hyundai, who produced the ix35 fuel cell so we can probably expect something similar from Kia. This means that hydrogen technology could make an appearance on the family friendly Kia Sportage SUV, as it's roomier size has the capacity to contain the fuel cell and batteries needed for this type of powertrain.

    The Hyundai ix35 has an impressive range of 359 miles and produces only pure water, so this gives us a good indication of what can be expected of Kia’s hydrogen fuel cell car. The only issue that slightly holds both cars back is the low amount of filling stations as there is only a handful around in the UK.

    Albert Biermann told Auto Express that Kia is putting in hard work on cars like these partly because of the 2015 Volkswagen diesel gate scandal. He told Auto Express “You know what’s going on with diesel right now and I think it’s better to focus on a hybrid to make sure we have a sustainable car for the future,” This means that we probably won’t see a diesel model from the Kia GT or Hyundai N brands. He continued with “Five years ago I would have said yes to that,” he said. “But today I would say no.”

    In addition to the Hydrogen fuel cell technology plans, Kia has also taken on plans to launch a new wave of hot GT spin-offs. Even though the original ProCeed GT was created just for Europe, Biermann who is also highly involved in the GT project, says that future versions will be sold globally.“The Ceed GT is a very balanced car,” he told us at the opening of a new test track at the company’s Namyang R&D Centre in Korea, “but we are a few years further down the road, and if we were to engineer it now it would have some more spice to it.”

    He said that the GT isn’t suited for all Kia models, but told Auto Express that the plan is to develop a performance derivative for most of Kia’s popular mainstream cars. The new Optima GT is set to release very soon, and will come with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 242bhp. Kia is also planning to create a GT version of the Rio which will rival big shots like the Fiesta ST.

    Also, a GT version of the growingly popular Sportage SUV would fill the obvious gap in the range, and it’s something Biermann would love to create he admitted, even though nothing has been signed off as of yet. “A GT version would be a very interesting thing to do and I think we cannot go too wrong on that,” he told us, “but we need to make the case for it.”

    The Kia GT's are not designed to handle regular track use unlike the Hyundai N models and with Biermann implying that Kia was unlikely to include expensive technology such as  electronically controlled limited slip differential that has been put together especially for the ‘Plus’ version of the Hyundai i30N.

    Also set to get a more dynamic focussed chassis settings are more of the regular Kia models. Biermann mentioned that there was still some work to be done to craft Kia models that “drive as well as they look”. To make the GT models as a bit more different to the Hyundai platform models, Kia will use re-tuned and more direct steering, firmer springs and tyres with better grip.

    It looks like the next couple of years will be exciting for Kia who has some interesting works in the pipeline. We believe that their development with GT models and hydrogen technology could provide them with the success they need to become one of the big shot contenders in the motoring market.

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