Kia Ready to Launch Its Mildest Hybrid Yet


It isn’t a model, it’s simply a powertrain. After the recent announcement of the Niro Electric and earlier hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications, Kia’s ready to dial it way back for the masses.

The automaker has announced a 48-volt mild hybrid system that shouldn’t confuse unsavvy buyers, providing it never uses the word “hybrid” in their company. The system’s name? EcoDynamics +.

Kia’s mild hybrid takes a traditional form. A belt starter generator fed by a 48-volt battery located under the trunk or cargo floor adds a small amount of electric “boost” to the engine’s crankshaft via the serpentine belt, taking the strain off the gas or diesel powerplant. Kia claims the system adds 13.4 horsepower to the mix. The system also handles a beefed-up stop/start system, and recharging comes by way of regenerative braking or coasting while in gear.

Kia’s stop/start goes further than conventional systems, shutting down the engine while the vehicle is in gear and moving forward (while coasting or braking). That’s if the battery’s charge allows it. At any time, the driver can stomp on the accelerator and have the system refire the engine.

Image: Kia Motors

As with other mild hybrids, fuel economy gains won’t be stratospheric, but won’t be insignificant, either. For now, Kia’s relegating this green-tinted news to the other side of the Atlantic. The first vehicle boasting the 48-volt mild hybrid system will be the Sportage diesel. There’s a host of additional emissions-reducing tech piled into this diesel, but it’s highly doubtful you’d ever get a chance to drive one. Not a problem, as the company plans to adapt the system to work with gasoline engines equipped with any type of transmission.

It’s safe to say you’ll see EcoDynamics+ arriving at American dealers in the not-too-distant future. Europeans see the mild hybrid Sportage in late 2018, with other models following next year.

By going the 48-volt route, Kia says it’s keeping its promise “create innovative cars that are affordable for a broad range of buyers.” Besides the mild hybrid system, the brand expects to launch five new hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles by 2025.

[Images: Kia Motors]