The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that delivered a black eye to the diesel engine last year may have claimed another victim in the form of Kia’s planned diesel-electric hybrid.
Designed to combine the efficiency of a diesel engine with a zero-emission electric motor, the hybrid project promised ultra-low fuel consumption along with oodles of torque and driveability in future Kia models.
But now, Kia’s Albert Biermann says ever-tightening emissions laws may kill off the project, along with battery prices - which remain expensive despite the progression of electric and hybrid-powered vehicles.
“The research project is still going on but the cost of electric motors and batteries in a hybrid is already significant,” Biermann said, speaking with the UK’s Autocar.
“The question is whether it is really necessary to throw in a more expensive diesel engine.”
While Biermann does not point the finger at Dieselgate, faltering public opinion around diesels means such a project could fail to deliver the goods on the sales charts.
Also, Biermann said that the ongoing hybrid project may yet switch to petrol-power for its internal combustion engine.
“We also have a very efficient Atkinson-cycle [petrol] engine, so I think that is the good choice here,” Mr Biermann said.
Kia’s diesel-hybrid tech first appeared in the Optima T-Hybrid concept (pictured), unveiled at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
The concept was designed to preview a new road-going partner for Kia’s existing petrol-hybrid and plug-in hybrid Optima models, but if the carmaker has had a change of heart on the diesel angle, that day may never arrive.
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