Kia May Be Able To Break The Lock On The Hybrid Market In 2016
Published March 9, 2016
Plenty of automakers have tried to coax customers away from the Toyota Prius hybrid, which outsells the Ford C-Max 7-to-1 in the U.S. and exhibited such dominance that archrival Honda pulled its Insight hybrid from the market to regroup.
Kia Motors Corp. thinks it can succeed where others have failed.
With the Niro, the Korean automaker hopes to recreate the formula that turned the bulky Soul hatchback into America’s best-selling subcompact carwith its distinctive trucklike looks and the promise of utility. The hybrid promises 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving which is just below of the Prius’ benchmark of 52 mpg.
The most important success factor for the Niro is a “design that doesn’t shout “hybrid,'” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America. By delivering hybrid fuel economy in a crossover body, he said, “the Niro offers a uniquely alluring yet practical package that consumers haven’t seen before.”
Few automakers offer hybrid crossovers, as the vehicles’ high-riding posture makes it difficult to deliver the fuel economy gains customers desire. If the Niro gets the ensured 50 mpg, it would easily outdo the hybrid crossovers on the market today, including the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid.
Built on a dedicated green-car platform shared with Hyundai, the Niro has the same wheelbase as the Prius, though Kia’s hybrid is 1.6 inches wider and 7.2 inches shorter. Powered by a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine combined with an electric motor, the Niro delivers 146 hp, which is more than the 121 hp for the Prius.
Power is a weak spot for Toyota, which has tried to mend a reputation for boring design and slow acceleration since it introduced the fourth-generation Prius.
Kia also introduced hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the Optima midsize sedan, which was redesigned in 2015.
The plug-in hybrid Optima, powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine combined with a 50-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 154 hp. The hybrid, pairing the same engine with a 38-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 193 hp.
Kia didn’t release fuel economy numbers for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, but the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which shares the same powertrain, ensures 40 mpg city/44 highway. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid boasts 40 mpg combined and 99 mpg-e when running on electricity.
For more information on Kia Hybrids and gas saving electric cars, stop by or call Ewald Kia of Oconomowc, located at 36883 E Wisconsin Ave Oconomowoc, WI 53066!
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