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Kia Rio Hybrid

Asian manufacturers have led the way in the production of green cars. Despite Toyota and Honda stealing the limelight with their hybrid cars, South Korean manufacturer Kia is determined to show it too is at the forefront of green car development and so it has created a hybrid version of the popular Kia Rio which will soon make an impact on the international market.

History of the Kia Rio Hybrid

The Kia Rio was first introduced in August 2000 for the 2001 model year, as a replacement for the Kia Pride in the subcompact vehicle range. Its first generation was available as both a five-door hatchback and a four-door saloon, although the saloon version was not offered in the United Kingdom. At one time the Kia Rio was the cheapest new car on sale in the USA with a retail price of just $6,995.

There was a mild redesign of the model in 2003 with upgrades in the engine, suspension and brakes. The second generation emerged in 2005 based on a redesigned platform that was shared with the Hyundai Accent. There was an increase in the exterior size and the interior volume and the vehicle boasted much better fuel economy.

This trend was continued when Kia unveiled a concept version of the Kia Rio hybrid in 2007 at the Geneva Auto Show. The vehicle will use hybrid train technology developed by Hyundai-Kai and without licensed Toyota or Honda technology. The drive-train is lightweight and the vehicle will feature automatic engine shut-off when idling, regenerative braking and continuously variable transmission.

Environmental credentials of the Kia Rio Hybrid

The development of the Kia Rio Hybrid coincides with the announcement that Kia Motors and Hyundai will develop 3,390 hybrid vehicles for the Korean Ministry of Defence over a two-year period. The expansion of this hybrid test fleet is one of the largest undertakings aimed at increasing eco-friendly vehicle production by 2010.

The Kia Rio Hybrid has many attractive features for the most environmentally conscious driver. During steady cruising the electric motor will switch off, while during deceleration a regenerative braking system is employed to recharge the batteries. With a computer-controlled system, the Kia Rio Hybrid can also switch the motor off whenever the vehicle comes to a standstill and restart automatically.

There are impressive environmental figures with the Kia Rio Hybrid too. Even though it can move briskly for a car its size – from 0-62mph in just 12.2 seconds, it returns fuel consumption figures at a whopping 53.4mpg. When compared to the standard Kia Rio, its air pollution levels are dynamic – air pollutants are cut by 37 per cent and fuel economy is boosted by 44 per cent. It also boasts low CO2 emission levels at just 126g/km.

Kia Rio Hybrid statistics

Here are some crucial statistics about the Kia Rio Hybrid:

  • 0-62mph: 12.2 seconds
  • CO2 emissions: 126g/km
  • Engine: 1.4litre petrol engine
  • MPG Combined: 53.4mpg
  • Top speed: 112mph

Future of the Kia Rio Hybrid

The Kia Rio Hybrid is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2009. It is expected to be visually the same as the regular Kia Rio and with a retail price below that of similar models from Toyota and Honda.

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Lee Sibbald

Filed under: Hybrid cars, Kia

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