Kia’s First Fuel Cell Vehicle To Be Released in Three Years

Kia will roll out its first fuel cell vehicle in around three years from now, and a company executive has shed more light on parent company Hyundai’s eco car lineup.

Lee Ki-sang, senior vice president of the Eco Technology Center that serves Hyundai and Kia said Kia’s FCV will come out some time after Hyundai releases its next FCVe built on a next-generation platform in 2018. It’s all part of the corporation’s eco car initiative that will bring out 28 new green vehicles by 2020, he said.

Of the 28, the vehicle launches will be evenly split so that Hyundai and Kia each bring out 14 new vehicles, he said.

Kia will share the technology for a couple of reasons, Lee said. For one, the Hyundai group lacks the vast resources needed to bring out fuel cell vehicles for both brands; and secondly, costs will be driven down by launching the first version through Hyundai with its base customers willing absorb higher sticker prices. As the costs fall, the technology will make its way down to a Kia model.

Lee didn’t say what markets will see the Kia fuel cell, but he does see the global marketplace spiking up. New hydrogen-powered vehicles are expected to come out by 2020 from BMW, Daimler, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota, he said.

There’s also going to be more stringent zero emission vehicle rules enacted by that year in China and Europe, which should help drive demand.

“We thought that was good timing to introduce a fuel cell to the market in Kia,” Lee said. “In the meantime, we will reduce the material costs dramatically.”

There’s been speculation over what the first of the next-generation Hyundai fuel cell vehicles will look like; and the very first one from Kia.

The parent company debuted the Hyundai FE Fuel Cell Concept at the Geneva Motor Show last month, which could be the first in the new platform technology lineup. The crossover will be 20-percent lighter, 10-percent more fuel efficient, and have 30-percent more fuel cell density than the current model.

Another Hyundai executive made the claim that it will go 497 miles on a tank of hydrogen, the longest-range ZEV ever.

Kia might bring out the new technology through its Sportage SUV. The Sportage’s larger size provides more room to pack in the fuel cell and batteries needed for this kind of powertrain. It would also fall in line with the two Hyundai SUV crossovers – the Tucson Fuel Cell and the FE Fuel Cell Concept.

While Hyundai’s sales of the Tucson Fuel Cell have been weak since the 2013 launch, the company expects fuel cell vehicle sales to spike up to tens of thousands once the next-gen technology comes out, Lee said.

SEE ALSO:  Hyundai Says Its Next Fuel Cell SUV Will Be Fueled For Nearly 500 Miles

Lee said of the 28 eco cars, 17 have not yet hit the market: four more hybrid vehicles, five more plug-in hybrids, six all-electric, and the Hyundai and Kia fuel cell vehicles.

Rolling them out evenly between the two brands stirs up the competitive sales environment for the company.

“The companies’ sales guys are competing against each other,” Lee said. “If I gave one favors, they would complain. I have to treat them evenly.”

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