Kia Ready to Launch Its Mildest Hybrid Yet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It isn’t a model, it’s simply a powertrain. After the recent announcement of the Niro Electric and earlier hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications, Kia’s ready to dial it way back for the masses.

The automaker has announced a 48-volt mild hybrid system that shouldn’t confuse unsavvy buyers, providing it never uses the word “hybrid” in their company. The system’s name? EcoDynamics +.

Kia’s mild hybrid takes a traditional form. A belt starter generator fed by a 48-volt battery located under the trunk or cargo floor adds a small amount of electric “boost” to the engine’s crankshaft via the serpentine belt, taking the strain off the gas or diesel powerplant. Kia claims the system adds 13.4 horsepower to the mix. The system also handles a beefed-up stop/start system, and recharging comes by way of regenerative braking or coasting while in gear.

Kia’s stop/start goes further than conventional systems, shutting down the engine while the vehicle is in gear and moving forward (while coasting or braking). That’s if the battery’s charge allows it. At any time, the driver can stomp on the accelerator and have the system refire the engine.

As with other mild hybrids, fuel economy gains won’t be stratospheric, but won’t be insignificant, either. For now, Kia’s relegating this green-tinted news to the other side of the Atlantic. The first vehicle boasting the 48-volt mild hybrid system will be the Sportage diesel. There’s a host of additional emissions-reducing tech piled into this diesel, but it’s highly doubtful you’d ever get a chance to drive one. Not a problem, as the company plans to adapt the system to work with gasoline engines equipped with any type of transmission.

It’s safe to say you’ll see EcoDynamics+ arriving at American dealers in the not-too-distant future. Europeans see the mild hybrid Sportage in late 2018, with other models following next year.

By going the 48-volt route, Kia says it’s keeping its promise “create innovative cars that are affordable for a broad range of buyers.” Besides the mild hybrid system, the brand expects to launch five new hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles by 2025.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Akear Akear on May 16, 2018

    Yet another Kia that is better than its Ford contemporary. Ford does have the F-150 and Mustang, but after that it is pretty much a unimpressive lineup. Ford - what a disgrace!

  • Aquaticko Aquaticko on May 16, 2018

    I hope that this trickles throughout Kia's lineup--and Hyundai's--in North America. Their fuel economy and general powertrain performance has been slightly lagging. I had thought that this'd be accompanied by the lead-carbon battery that Kia showed in the system a few years ago, but that could come in down the line. The Japanese--at this point really just meaning Honda and Toyota--have maintained the lead in powertrain efficiency and refinement for decades, and it's an area that's going to become increasingly important as vehicles with more than an I4 become rarer and the fuel economy-performance tradeoff risks becoming heavier in either direction. The Koreans need to catch up; so do the Americans, but that's that and this is this.

    • Bd2 Bd2 on May 16, 2018

      This 48V "mild hybrid" system will trickle down to other H/K models (and other automakers are incorporating a 48V system as well), but really should be the default set-up for ICE models. Not only b/c all the latest safety tech require more energy, but a 48V system isn't nearly as expensive as a full-hybrid system where, unless living in a high gas area like the West Coast, not really worth the premium to go with a full-hybrid (plus, not lugging around all that battery weight). Also, H/K should be seeing improved efficiency with its Theta III 4 cyl engines, followed by its next gen Lambda V6 engines. The 1.6T is already pretty efficient, but fuel economy can differ widely depending on the transmission. The 1.6T tied to the 7 spd DCT is more efficient than when partnered with the 6 spd AT. As an aside, the refreshed front fascia of the Sportage looks a good bit better.

  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?
  • Analoggrotto Colorado baby!
  • Rob Woytuck Weight is also a factor for ferries which for instance in British Columbia, Canada are part of the highway system.
  • Ajla I guess some people were big fans of Milli Vanilli and Real Dolls (don't Google that at work) but I have a very large problem with the fake engine sounds and fake transmissions. If you turn them off does it stay off forever or does it turn back on whenever you go into sport mode?
  • Probert That X frame was a killer. No nostalgia for these things to be honest. Yup - life of the party....