Kia is working on a hydrogen fuel-cell car which will go on sale before the end of 2021. Speaking to our sister publication Autocar UK ahead of the Geneva motor show, Kia’s head of marketing in Europe Artur Martins confirmed that development of a new fuel cell car was under way.
Although he stopped short of confirming any specifics about the new car, Martins said it would be a 'bigger' model which would be capable of housing conventional combustion engines, as well as hybrid and electric options and, crucially, a fuel cell, too.
The model will get its own distinctive look to signify its eco credentials. “It is not clear what kind of body style the cars will have, but it will be dedicated models rather than using an existing donor car as we do now with the ix35,” said Kia's head of fuel cell research, Dr Sae-Hoon Kim. He pointed at the Toyota Mirai highlighting the benefits of a bespoke fuel cell car, most notably because of the ability to design with extra cooling requirements in mind.
Kia's upcoming next-generation hydrogen fuel stack will be similar in size to a 2.0-litre combustion engine. But despite being 15 percent more compact and lighter, it will deliver around 10 percent more performance. Range between refuelings is expected to be around 805km, and top speed around 169kph.
The Sorento SUV is a likely frontrunner to receive this hybrid technology. Martins added that despite it being Kia’s halo model, a fuel cell version of the upcoming Stinger sports saloon isn’t planned. He also confirmed that if the new model was successful, it would “make sense to start applying it to other products,” opening the door for more fuel cell models from Kia in the future.
Kia already has a fuel cell car in its model range – the Borrego FCEV SUV. The company’s ambitious CO2 reduction target will result in 70 percent of the firm’s current line-up of engines being replaced over the next four years, as well as the launch of seven hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery-electric and fuel cell cars. More efficient multi-speed transmissions are also being developed.
According to reports last year, Kia has been exploring an entry into the Indian market for several years. The company is yet to identify a location for its first factory in the country and it's only after this big hurdle is cleared that a formal announcement on its entry into India can be expected.