By on May 15, 2018

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.

Image: Kia Motors

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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7 Comments on “Kia Ready to Launch Its Mildest Hybrid Yet...”

  • avatar

    Not so much a hybrid but a way to finally make stop-start systems an effective technology and power the increasingly hungry on-board electronics.

    Mercedes did something similar with the M256 in-line 6 and M260/264 4 cylinder. Expect to see similar 48v systems in most new cars in the near future.

  • avatar

    HOMER: Like a giant billboard that says ‘No Fat Chicks’?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    GM was ahead of its time when it brought similar systems to market quite a few years ago. In typical GM fashion they over-hyped the thing then cancelled it. Recently GM has brought these kinds of systems back.

    Remember the Cadillac “4-6-8”? It was a 1980s implementation of selective cylinder shut down. Released underdeveloped, cancelled … and now one of the tricks multiple companies have used to improve fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar

      People expected full hybrid mpg from GM’s mild hybrid system. It was simple matter of the buyers not understanding (which may have been a GM marketing failure).

  • avatar

    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!

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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