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Kia hybrids to undergo real-world testing in Europe

Left: This new model, which is already on sale to the public in Korea, is powered by Kia's 1.6-liter Gamma engine running on liquid petroleum gas and generating 114ps and 148Nm of torque

Kia has transported a Forte LPI Hybrid sedan to Europe for the first time to preview an extensive ‘real world' research program it will undertake in 2010.

Although the C-segment Forte (known as Cerato is some countries) is not marketed in Europe, next year Kia is planning to operate a global test fleet of 50 Forte LPI Hybrid cars - with 36 cars allocated to testing in Europe.

In European countries with an established LPG infrastructure, the new Forte fleet will be available for media, government departments and environmental organizations to test-drive and will be used to assess the feasibility of large-scale commercialization of LPI hybrids for the future – and to fully exploit the potential cost-savings that the price differential between LPG and gasoline may present.

This new model, which is already on sale to the public in Korea, is powered by Kia's 1.6-liter Gamma engine running on liquid petroleum gas and generating 114ps and 148Nm of torque. It is mated to a hybrid powertrain with a 15kW (20ps), 105Nm (10.7kg.m) electric motor, a 180V lithium ion polymer battery pack and a CVT gearbox, Start/Stop (ISG) and a regenerative braking system.

In everyday motoring, the new Forte LPI Hybrid promises a range of more than 502 miles (808km) between fill-ups.

The performance of any hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) is inextricably linked to the lifespan and storage capacity of its batteries and Kia has undertaken an intensive R&D program to design and develop its own lithium ion polymer battery for the Forte LPI Hybrid.

Kia decided to develop a lithium polymer battery instead of relying on imported nickel hydrogen batteries. Development was jointly conducted with a local firm in Korea. Researchers had to create a battery that could withstand the most extreme environmental conditions while delivering over 10-times the reliability and durability of lithium batteries used in small IT applications.

Furthermore, researchers had to secure battery stability in acute physical, heat and electrical conditions. Achieving cost competitiveness to counter mass-produced nickel hydrogen batteries was another formidable challenge.

Kia's researchers managed to achieve those goals and the new lithium ion polymer battery in the Forte LPI Hybrid has three-times the rated voltage of a nickel hydrogen battery (one cell basis) and weighs less. Output density was raised by 65% (over nickel hydrogen batteries), while energy density was improved by about 35%.

In terms of durability and lifespan, tests have been completed to ensure the battery performs well for over 300,000km. To address the important issue of safety, a four-level safety net was created encompassing a vehicle controller, battery controller, secure pack structure and the cell's safety design.

Kia Forte LPI Hybrid is the world's first application of lithium ion polymer batteries, and Kia has secured leading technology for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, while preparing the foundation to become a prominent presence in the eco-friendly vehicle market of the future.

21 September 2009


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