Kia to boost hybrid, electric offerings, add fuel cell in 2020

DC fast charging 2015 Kia Soul EV

DC fast charging 2015 Kia Soul EV

Kia is continuing with plans to significantly increase the number of green cars in its future lineup.

The Korean automaker and its parent, Hyundai, together hope to become the second-biggest seller of green cars worldwide, after Toyota.

That means more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars, and even some hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

DON'T MISS: Kia to focus on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles before electrics, chief engineer says

 By 2020, Kia will have 14 green models in its global lineup, European boss Michael Cole said in a recent interview with the British magazine Autocar.

That total will include new variants of existing models, such as a hybrid version of the Kia Optima station wagon sold in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro hybrid utility vehicle.

Kia doesn't sell Optima wagons in the U.S., but we already get both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Optima mid-size sedan.

2017 Kia Niro

2017 Kia Niro

Its hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains are lifted from the Hyundai Sonata, which shares a platform with the Optima.

Unveiled in February at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the Niro is Kia's first dedicated hybrid model.

Kia calls it a crossover, but the Niro's styling is somewhere between wagon and SUV, and it will launch with only front-wheel drive available.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Kia Soul EV to get range boost to keep pace: report

The Soul EV will likely continue as Kia's only battery-electric model for the time being.

This electric version of the funky compact Soul is only sold at certain dealers in a handful of U.S. states deemed by Kia to be sufficiently electric-car-friendly.

European boss Cole also said Kia will launch its first production hydrogen fuel-cell car "around 2020."

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

This new model would likely use the second-generation fuel-cell powertrain being developed for parent Hyundai's next hydrogen model.

The next fuel-cell Hyundai is expected to roll out in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in South Korea.

A Kia variant would likely follow, though little else is known about it at this point.

MORE: Hyundai Plans Hybrids, Electric Cars & More: 5 Questions With Green R&D Head Ki-Sang Lee (Jan 2015)

Hyundai has hinted that its next fuel-cell vehicle will be another crossover, replacing the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Kia may follow Hyundai's lead and offer a fuel-cell crossover as well, but no details about the model have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the launch of the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric powertrains will likely go a long way toward meeting Hyundai/Kia's ambitious green-car goal.


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