Kias green future revealed

* Fleet of green models planned * Rio with 85g/km CO2 emissions * Hybrid due in 2012...

Kias green future revealed

Kia has vowed to become the producer of the world's most fuel-efficient cars, with a raft of new green models coming in the next three years.

By 2014, the Korean company will have launched its first hybrid in Europe, a fully electric car and a host of modifications to existing models and technologies.

The first of these to arrive will be an Eco Dynamics version of the forthcoming Rio supermini. It will be powered by a 74bhp three-cylinder 1.1-litre diesel engine, and will be 36kg lighter than the standard version. Combined with engine stop-start technology, this means that the Kia Rio Eco Dynamics will average 88mpg and emit just 85g/km of CO2. Similar treatments are expected for other future models.

Kia is also pressing on with the introduction of downsized turbo petrol engines across its range. The existing 2.0-litre engine will be replaced by a 213bhp 1.6-litre turbo and the current 1.6-litre becomes a 128bhp 1.2-litre turbo. Both will bring considerable improvement to economy and emissions, especially when used in conjunction with Kias first double-clutch semi-atuo gearbox that's in development.

Petrol-electric hybrid
By mid-2012, Kia will introduce its first petrol-electric hybrid into Europe - in the Mondeo-rivalling Optima saloon.

Unlike the model that's already on sale in the US, the European version will have a 2.0-litre petrol engine allied to an electric motor, going through a conventional auto 'box. Pricing is yet to be decided, but a senior company insider predicted that it would be close to that of the Toyota Prius.

Kia has also announced plans to produce a fully electric car for the global market by 2014. Details are scarce, but it's likely to be an electric version of the next-generation Soul.

A plug-in hybrid model will follow the electric car and a model powered by fuel-cell technology is also in development.