According to the latest rumor off the mill, the South Korean automaker might ditch its planned hybrid diesel engine powertrain as emissions regulations become tighter and scrutiny is heightened due to VW’s Dieselgate.
Apparently Kia performance development chief Albert Biermann has seen it harder and harder to support the ongoing development of the more and more expensive diesel engines when the regulations become even tighter. “The research project is still going on,” Biermann commented in a recent interview, “but the cost of electric motors and batteries in a hybrid is already significant. The question is whether it is really necessary to throw in a more expensive diesel engine.” The research and development done prior to the decision will not be wasted either – “We also have a very efficient Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, so I think that is the good choice here,” suggesting the new hybrid system could be swapped with a reengineered petrol engine.
The project was first announced via the Optima T-Hybrid, a prototype first introduced back in 2014 during the Paris Motor Show. The classic Hyundai-Kia 1.7 CRDi diesel engine was supplemented by a 48V electric supercharger – which is very close to what Audi has introduced in the production series of the way more expensive V8-powered SQ7 TDI. The setup was turned into a mild hybrid via the use of a 48V starter/generator – estimating the fuel consumption gain as compared to any standard car would be of 15 to 20 percent.