Kia Ready to Launch Its Mildest Hybrid Yet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
kia ready to launch its mildest hybrid yet

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]

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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.

  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?