Kia Optima T-Hybrid Combines Diesel and Electric Power, Boasts With Electric Supercharger

Kia Optima T-Hybrid 4 photos
Photo: Kia
Kia Optima T-HybridKia Optima T-HybridKia Optima T-Hybrid
The South Korean automaker announced earlier this month that the Paris Motor Show will see the debut of the redesigned Rio and Venga, with the addition of a curious concept dubbed Optima T-Hybrid.
Although the French automotive event is just a few days away from kickoff, Kia has already showcased what the Optima T-Hybrid is all about. So what does the Asian car manufacturer want to prove with it?

As its name implies, the Optima T-Hybrid looks pretty much the same as the Optima mid-size sedan, but it adopts "mild hybrid" technology similar to the Citroen DS5's diesel-electric powertrain. As such, Kia's new concept car employs a 1.7L CRDi turbo diesel paired with a small electric motor powered by a 48V battery.

This Kia Optima T-Hybrid is set up to operate in all-electric mode when traveling at low speeds and at cruising speeds, while a regenerative braking system is there to recharge the battery when decelerating. An interesting aspect of the concept is that it doesn't use a lithium-ion battery, but a lead-carbon type.

Kia says that unlike lithium-ion batteries, lead-carbon batteries don't need active cooling and are easier to recycle at the end of the unit’s lifecycle. In addition to the previously mentioned, the vehicle employs a new belt-driven starter generator for vibrationless start&stop operation. Nevertheless, all of the gizmos we detailed up to this moment pale in comparison to what Kia fitted to the internal combustion mill.

The electric supercharger - that's the real highlight of the Kia Optima T-Hybrid

Frankly speaking, the diesel-hybrid powertrain is not as interesting as the innovative electric supercharger, which aids the 1.7-liter CRDi oil burner with improved power and torque at all engine speeds. Specifically, the electric supercharger helps to boost torque and engine response at low engine speeds, translating to better acceleration and fuel economy in city driving.

No performance or fuel economy figures are confirmed for the powertrain or its application in the Optima T-Hybrid concept car. Still, Kia is targeting a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, as well as a power increase of between 15 to 20 percent for models which could be fitted with the powertrain. Unfortunately, the Optima T-Hybrid concept's powertrain won't be put into mass production very soon, but the design remains under consideration for future Kia nameplates.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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