Kia Motors America unveiled the all-new 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid
“As part of our bold initiative to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across the entire Kia model line-up by 2020, a plug-in hybrid was a critical addition to our offering. The Optima HEV adds hybrid efficiency to the standout styling and vehicle dynamics of our all-new Optima, and the PHEV takes things one step further with all-electric range that is among the best in the segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “All three of the vehicles being introduced here at the Chicago Auto Show are emblematic of Kia’s commitment to sustainability and our philosophy that you shouldn’t have to accept compromises when making a green choice.”
The all-new 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid is crafted with many of the same luxurious appointments of its gas-powered sibling, along with numerous Hybrid-exclusive touches, including a distinctive instrument cluster and unique exterior design elements and specially designed alloy wheels. The Optima Plug-in Hybrid, available in one trim, EX, will be built at Hwasung, South Korea, and is expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
High-efficiency Hybrid Technology
The all-new 2017 Optima PHEV was engineered with a dual focus on efficiency and driving dynamics. Utilizing Kia’s highly efficient 2.0-liter “Nu” four-cylinder GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, power output is targeted for a class-leading 154 hp @ 6,000 rpm. Electric power is produced by a transmission-mounted 50 kW motor, which is 42 percent more powerful than in the previous Optima Hybrid to allow for greater all-electric capability. This hybrid system provides a fast and seamless transition from EV to gasoline to hybrid modes, as well as more refined shift quality. Overall engine efficiency is also improved by the introduction of a High Voltage Electric Oil Pump, replacing the combination mechanical oil pump and low voltage electric pump found in the outgoing Optima Hybrid. Transmission cooling changes from natural air to water. These engineering enhancements yield an expected engine efficiency improvement of more than 20 percent.
With an estimated 600 miles of total driving range, the Optima PHEV’s next-generation battery system features a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, which produces roughly 60 percent more energy output than the battery pack found in the outgoing Optima’s hybrid system, and is estimated to achieve 27 miles in full EV mode, placing the Optima PHEV among the segment leaders in all-electric range. To increase available cargo capacity in the trunk, the new battery pack is hidden behind the rear seat and tire well, giving Optima PHEV one of the largest cargo areas among all midsize PHEVs. This thoughtful change also provides the space needed to offer 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which significantly increases the vehicle’s utility. Additional power to the battery system is generated from the vehicle’s improved Regenerative Braking System, which maximizes regenerative torque through refined cooperative control between the hybrid control unit and the brake actuation unit, resulting in a 10 percent increase in regenerative energy. The Optima PHEV is equipped with a single charging port conveniently located in the driver’s side front fender. A full charge can be achieved in less-than three hours via a 240V (Level 2) charger, and less-than nine hours via a 120V (Level 1) charger.
The all-new Optima PHEV provides its driver with options to reserve electric range via a plug-in hybrid mode select system. Exclusive to the PHEV variant of the all-new Optima, the system includes an all-Electric Mode (EV), which is suitable for short-range city driving, Hybrid Mode (HEV) for highway driving, and Charging Mode, which increases energy direction to the battery while driving at higher speeds. The energy produced while in Charging Mode can then be utilized in EV mode, extending the convenience of full electric power without stopping to charge.