Visually, there’s little to tell this new ‘concept’ apart from the regular 2014 range - not even the unique styling tweaks that feature with the current petrol-electric Optima Hybrid.
Under the skin, however, it’s a different story. Under the skin, Kia has taken its 100kW 1.7 litre diesel engine and matched it to a small electric motor.
Previewed at March’s Geneva Motor Show, the technology uses a 48-volt lead-carbon battery, chosen over lithium-ion because of its reduced cooling needs and its capacity for easy recycling.
Kia hasn’t revealed specific combined figures for the new diesel-electric concept, although it claims that CO2 emissions and power have been improved by around 20 percent. On its own, the diesel engine lists emissions at 128g/km.
The system also allows the Optima T-Hybrid to be driven on electric-only power at low speeds and during highway cruising.
Although seemingly production-ready, the T-Hybrid system is not expected to debut in showrooms with the current Optima range.
The next-generation Optima has been spied testing in recent weeks, however, suggesting we could see a diesel-electric option offered in the new range.
“In future, our mild hybrid powertrain could offer Kia customers greater performance and lower running costs, without sacrificing the qualities they expect of a Kia car - enjoyable handling, a comfortable ride and high quality,” Kia Motors Europe COO Michael Cole said.
“Demonstrated for the first time in the Optima T-Hybrid, the technology will lower the total cost of ownership of our cars, yet still keep them affordable as an outright purchase for customers.”
Whether that will include Australia, however, remains to be seen. The current petrol-electric Optima Hybrid is restricted to left-hand-drive production and is therefore not available in Australia.
If Kia opts to widen the reach of its hybrid technology in the future, the next-generation Optima Hybrid and T-Hybrid models could just make their way to our roads.