Range-extended electric Kia models similar to the Vauxhall Ampera could be on sale in two years, according to the company’s product planning boss.
Marketing and product planning boss Benny Oeyen said Kia and sister-company Hyundai were researching the full suite of alternative power sources and technology. Hybrids such as the 117g/km Sportage on show at Paris will come from next year, but Oeyen is putting most weight behind range-extender technology after that.
This uses a small combustion engine to generate electricity after the batteries have run flat and gives cars the range which consumers have become used to with petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains.
‘Range extending is a fantastic thing. I can’t see an electric car the size of the Optima working without something like this. If it hasn’t got range, then forget it,’ Oeyen told What Car?
‘If there is demand, it could go quickly, perhaps within a couple of years.’
Oeyen is cautious, however, when it comes to the support such vehicles may need from governments, both in terms of the grants that may be necessary for consumers to afford them and the continuation of benefits and tax breaks they enjoy.
His concern is that, if motorists make a big switch to electric vehicles, the tax income from the sale of petrol and diesel fuel would drop and leave governments looking to claw in revenue from other power sources.
While UK transport secretary Philip Hammond has said this won’t become an issue for around 10 to 15 years, Oeyen is acutely aware of how government action can affect market places and demand.
For example, he says, LPG was supported by the Italian government, grew to take 70% of the market and was then left without support by a new, incoming party.
Whatever spanners governments may throw in the works, Oeyen is very confident that the cost of developing the wide range of future technologies can be covered in-house with cash from other company interests such as shipping.
Kia, therefore, isn’t looking to collaborate or share technology with other companies he said.
The company will put a 114g/km eco-Venga into production at the end of this year and also showed a sub-100g/km eco-Cee’d small family car at the Paris show.
Although just billed as a concept at this stage, it would be easy for Kia to put this into production in months.
Emitting 94g/km of CO2, the car would benefit from low company car tax rates, zero vehicle excise duty and the chance to avoid the congestion charge in London if Boris Johnson’s proposed overhaul of the system goes ahead.
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