Kia Goes Hybrid
For quite a while it seemed as though the knock on hybrids was that it was technology that was exceedingly expensive, and the sort of thing that, say, only a Toyota could put on the market.
And while Kia is certainly working its way up in the ranks away from being simply an “economy” brand by providing cars and crossovers with considerable style and amenities, its announcement last week that there will be a hybrid Kia Optima on the road early next year certainly indicates that hybrid technology is certainly as mainstream as it is going to get.
The technology underpinning the Optima Hybrid seems to be that which is being deployed in the Sonata Hybrid, which integrates the motor with the engine and transmission, and which uses a lithium-polymer battery. (Hyundai and Kia are close corporate relations.)
There are styling cues on the exterior indicating that this is a hybrid, not a conventional sedan, including a modified front grille design, modified headlamps, fog lamps, a new front lower bumper, side sills, LED tail lamps, a rear lip spoiler, and a rear lower bumper.
Any car company that is not going to have some alternative choices when it comes to powertrains will undoubtedly find itself lower on shoppers’ lists.
Dan Nicholson is vice president of General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, the organization that had been “GM Powertrain” for 24 years.
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