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Published on February 16th, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Kia Optima Hybrid Could Be The Sedan To Own

The Kia Optima Hybrid gives a combined fuel consumption of just 6.2L/100km which is what we need here in Malaysia. The Optima Hybrid is fitted with a parallel hybrid system that combines and electric motor with a 2.4-litre petrol motor similar to what you see in the Hybrid Camry from Thailand. Both motors drive the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission without the traditional torque converter. The electric motor can be used in full-electric mode right up to almost 100km/h but in normal operation the electric motor gets the car moving and then the petrol motor cuts in. Once the petrol motor is pushing the car along the electric motor goes back to hybrid operation and either charges the battery or assists in acceleration. To further enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions the petrol motor cuts out if the vehicle is stationery for more than a few seconds.

The battery The battery that’s such an important part of every hybrid vehicle was developed by Kia in partnership with LG. It’s a lithium polymer battery that weighs 20-to-30% less than a nickel-metal hydride battery and occupies 40% less .The lithium polymer battery developed by Kia and LG holds its charge for 25% longer than nickel metal hydride batteries and Kia believes that it is so reliable that the Optima’s battery pack will not require replacing during the vehicle’s lifespan – at least 10 years and 250,000 kilometers.

Control System Once again, as with the Hybrid Camry, Kia have mounted the battery in the boot. The complete hybrid system is controlled by the Optima’s Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) which acts as the car’s mastermind and integrates the smooth operation of the engine’s ECU, transmission’s TCU, battery management system (BMS), low voltage converter (LDC). This brain also gives the Optima a ‘Fail-Safe’ back-up capability and a ‘Limp-home’ mode.

The engine Just as Toyota did with the Hybrid Camry Kia has modified the 2.4-litre Theta II engine to operate on an Atkinson cycle. This raises the compression ratio by 20% and reduces fuel consumption by around 10 percent. On an Atkinson cycle the motor does lose some of its torque but the added power provided by the electric motor more than makes up for that torque reduction. The Kia Optima Hybrid uses two independent cooling systems. The first is the normal cooling system that we’re all accustomed to with the radiator/coolant for the petrol engine. The second is a low-temperature system for the starter-generator and the power electronics. For city driving Kia says that you should expect a fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km and 5.8L/100km on the highway.

AT the moment there’s no guarantee that Naza Kia will bring the Optima Hybrid to Malaysia but we should keep our fingers crossed as there is a growing acceptance of hybrid cars and Naza Kia has the clout to bring down the tax of hybrids with engines bigger than 2-liters.

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