Kia will show a new hybrid powertrain in its Optima T-Hybrid concept at the 2014 Paris auto show. The system mates the European-market Kia Optima‘s existing turbodiesel engine with a new mild-hybrid system that uses lead-carbon batteries. The hybrid system was previewed at the 2014 Geneva auto show, but until now Kia had not shown what car it could power.
In the Kia Optima T-Hybrid, the 1.7-liter turbodiesel serves as the primary driving force, while an electric motor takes over for low-speed driving and cruising. The lead-carbon battery was chosen because, according to Kia, it requires less cooling and is easier to recycle than the lithium-ion batteries that are more common in hybrid and electric vehicles. The car uses a 48-volt electrical system, which Audi is also testing for its own vehicles. The new electrical system allows the Kia Optima T-Hybrid to employ an electric supercharger, giving the 1.7-liter engine extra oomph at low speeds.
Although there are no official fuel economy figures for the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept, engineers expect the car to be 15-20 percent more efficient than the existing European-market Optima diesel. In the U.K., that model is currently rated for the equivalent of 39.2 mpg combined.
Although for now Kia maintains that this powertrain is just for show in the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept, the company says it, “remains under consideration for new Kia models in the future.” As for the Optima midsize sedan itself, spy photos reveal the 2016 Kia Optima will receive visual revisions inside and out.