Hybrids

Kia Sportage getting diesel mild-hybrid powertrain in Europe

The 48-volt system will roll out to other European Kias, but probably won't come to the US.

Kia's new diesel mild-hybrid powertrain will launch in the Sportage in Europe, but it's not currently planned for US consumption.

Kia

Kia is combining two fuel-efficient technologies into one with the launch of a new diesel mild-hybrid powertrain in Europe. Set to launch this year in the Sportage, the technology uses 48-volt hybrid technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 7 percent.

The mild-hybrid technology, which Kia calls EcoDynamics+, uses a 0.46-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a belt-driven motor-generator that can add up to 10 kilowatts (13 horsepower) of assistance to the diesel engine. It recharges the battery during braking or deceleration. Further, a Moving Stop & Start function allows the diesel engine to be turned off briefly when the car is coasting, then restarted quickly if the driver accelerates.

Though miles-per-gallon numbers aren't available, Kia says adding the mild hybrid cuts CO2 emissions by 7 percent on the New European Drive Cycle test and by 4 percent on the new, stricter Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

Kia says that this 48-volt mild-hybrid system is compact and can be easily, affordably adapted to existing models. The Euro-market Kia Sportage gets the technology this year as an option, followed by the Kia Ceed in 2019. Kia also promises that gasoline mild-hybrid powertrains will follow.

US availability of the powertrain technology sounds unlikely. A Kia spokesman in the US said, "We have nothing to announce at this time." He also noted that while diesel engines have proven popular in the Sportage in Europe, none are currently offered here. On the other hand, we do know that the redesigned 2019 Sorento will offer a diesel engine as an option – though for now Kia has released no details and said only that "more information is forthcoming."

Going forward, Kia's efforts to improve fleet efficiency include plans to launch five hybrids, five plug-in hybrids, five EVs, and a fuel-cell vehicle by 2025. Other cars using 48-volt mild-hybrids include the Audi A6, A7 and A8; certain versions of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and CLS-Class; as well the Ram 1500 and the next-generation Volkswagen Golf.