2011 Kia Optima Hybrid unveiled at Los Angeles Auto Show [video]

Expected to return 36 mpg city / 40 mpg highway

Kia has unveiled the 2011 Optima Hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Created specifically for the U.S. market, the car features a full parallel hybrid system which consists of a 168 PS (124 kW / 166 hp) 2.4-liter petrol engine and a 30 kW (41 PS / 40 hp) electric motor. All told, the two can work together to produce a combined 209 PS (154 kW / 206 hp) and 265 Nm (194 lb-ft) of torque.

This enables the car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 9.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 121 mph (195 km/h). More importantly, fuel consumption is expected to be 36 mpg city / 40 mpg highway (US).

To get these impressive features, Kia engineers optimized the petrol engine and installed a 34 kW lithium-ion battery which enables the hybrid to operate in EV mode at speeds up to 100 km/h (62 mph).

On the styling front, the Hybrid is distinguished by a reduced ride height (lowered 5mm), a revised grille, and unique 16-inch alloy wheels with low-rolling resistance tires.

No word on pricing, but look for the Optima Hybrid to start arriving at U.S. dealerships early next year.

Source: Kia


New Kia Optima Hybrid debuts at LA Auto Show

  • Promises unique blend of high performance and fuel economy

  • Zero-emissions, electric mode up to 62 mph (100 kph)

  • 2.4-liter gasoline engine plus 30 kW electric motor

  • Introduces state-of-the-art, high power lithium polymer batteries

(SEOUL) November 18, 2010 – Kia Motors Corporation held the world premiere of its all-new Optima Hybrid sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show, today (Wednesday). Created primarily with the US market in mind, the latest model in Kia’s design-led transformation employs a truly innovative Kia-developed powertrain that promises to deliver exceptional hybrid performance and 40 mpg class-leading fuel efficiency.

Arriving in Kia dealer showrooms early next year, the 2011 Optima Hybrid is the brand’s first-ever hybrid for North America and uses a ‘full parallel hybrid system’ to deliver a unique blend of performance – acceleration to 62 mph (100 kph) in 9.2 seconds, top speed 121 mph (195 kph) – and economy, achieving a 40.7% mpg improvement compared with a regular Optima.

“Kia Motors is proud to unveil its first-ever hybrid for the North American market,” comments Hyoung-Keun Lee, Vice Chairman of Kia Motors Corporation. “The new Optima Hybrid features a unique architecture and is packed with innovative technologies that demonstrate Kia’s on-going commitment to investing in R&D, and to developing environmentally friendly vehicles for the future.

“Although these new technologies presented our engineers with a series of complex challenges to overcome, the resulting Optima Hybrid delivers a fully automatic, seamless and enjoyable drive, together with real-world benefits for our customers,” adds Mr. Lee.

The Kia Optima Hybrid is equipped with an ingenious, simple and cost-effective ‘parallel hybrid system’. The 2.4-liter gasoline engine is mated to a small electric motor and drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission – without the traditional torque converter. A special clutch is fitted between the engine and motor, enabling the gasoline engine to be de-coupled from the powertrain so that Optima can be operated in zero-emissions, full-electric drive mode from standstill up to 62 mph. The system’s configuration does not require a high-capacity electric motor and generator, saving weight and cost.

Automatic, seamless daily driving experience

When setting off the Optima Hybrid operates in Electric Mode. As vehicle speed rises, the Hybrid Starter motor/Generator (HSG) starts the gasoline engine and the clutch is closed, allowing the engine to take over the task of propelling the car. The electric motor switches into hybrid operation and serves as both a secondary engine (during full acceleration and hill-climbing) and a generator to recharge the battery pack as necessary. Whenever the car comes a stop for more than a few seconds, the gasoline engine automatically shuts off to completely eliminate emissions.

When braking, the electric motor converts kinetic energy into electricity for storage in the battery pack. The 8.5 kW HSG also functions as a generator to re-charge the battery pack if the state of charge is low and when the car is stationary. Throughout the entire driving experience, in everyday motoring, under all conditions, the entire hybrid operation is automatic and seamless.

An unusually responsive and rewarding drive is guaranteed by the Optima Hybrid’s 30kW Interior Permanent Magnet (IPM) synchronous electric motor, which produces 40.7 ps and 205 Nm of torque from 0-to-1,400 rpm in electric mode, and the combined (electric motor plus gasoline engine) hybrid powertrain output of 209 ps and 265 Nm.

Described by Kia engineers as a Transmission-Mounted-Electric-Drive (TMED), the 30kW IPM electric motor sits within the car’s extended transmission casing (between the gasoline engine and the automatic gearbox) and is the world’s first oil-cooled system.

Kia’s Optima Hybrid employs a lithium polymer battery array developed in partnership with LG Chem. Lithium polymer offers the benefits of lithium-ion (used in laptops and cell phones), but adds robustness and packaging flexibility, making it ideal for automotive applications. These new batteries provide an optimum balance between power delivery, energy density and thermal stability.

Compared with nickel-metal hydride batteries, lithium polymer batteries weigh 20-to-30% less, occupy 40% less volume and are 10% more efficient. They also hold their charge for 25% longer than nickel metal hydride batteries and are so reliable that the Optima’s battery pack will not require replacing during the vehicle’s lifespan – at least 10 years and 150,000 miles.

The power and energy density of this new type of battery enabled Kia engineers to create a lighter more compact power pack – with a 34 kilowatt output and weighing just 43.6 kg (95.9 lbs) – designed to minimize intrusion of the Optima’s trunk space.

The complete hybrid system is controlled by the Optima’s Hybrid Control Unit (HCU) which acts as the car’s mastermind and integrates the smooth operation of the engine’s ECU, transmission’s TCU, battery management system (BMS), low voltage converter (LDC). This brain also gives the Optima a ‘Fail-Safe’ back-up capability and a ‘Limp-home’ mode.

Optimizing the Theta II gasoline engine

Taking advantage of the instant and continuously available torque from the electric motor, Kia modified its popular 2.4-litre Theta II engine to operate on an Atkinson cycle, raising the compression ratio by 20% to maximize its efficiency and achieving a 10% fuel saving over a regular Theta engine. This cycle generates a little less torque, but the electric motor compensates for any loss and consequently, the Optima Hybrid’s overall power and torque outputs are greater than the regular model.

For the Optima Hybrid, Kia has modified the six-speed automatic transmission found on the conventional Optima for hybrid application. The traditional torque converter is replaced with an electric motor and a high-efficiency oil pump. This new gearbox allows EV mode operation, maximizes regeneration of kinetic energy during braking and also provides a more responsive drive than a CVT system.

To maximize the Optima Hybrid’s performance and minimize its fuel consumption, special attention has been paid to its aerodynamics. The car is lowered by 5 mm and new features include an ‘active air flap’ in the front grille, smooth underfloor panels, low-drag wheels and low rolling resistance tyres. The drag coefficient is lowered to a remarkable Cd 0.26.

Energy and fuel-saving technologies features in the Optima Hybrid include a regenerative braking system, electric – rather than hydraulic – assisted power steering, and an electric air compressor capable of delivering high air-conditioning performance.

Two independent liquid cooling systems are fitted to the Optima Hybrid powertrain. The standard high-temperature circuit manages engine cooling and passenger compartment heating. The second low-temperature circuit cools the hybrid starter-generator and the power electronics. The trunk-mounted battery pack does not require liquid cooling and its temperature is controlled by a simple ventilation fan beneath the rear parcel shelf.

Stylish luxurious sedan with premium features

Aside from its unique hybrid powertrain the new Optima Hybrid incorporates all the technical features and the multiple choice of premium comfort and convenience equipment offered by its regular stablemates.

All Optima models share common major dimensions and a unitary construction. Featuring front-wheel-drive, Optima utilizes independent suspension systems, with MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link layout at the rear


Outside, new Optima Hybrid offers dual exhausts with chrome tips, solar glass, outside mirror turn signal indicators and 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 205/65R16 tires. As an option, 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/55/R17 tires will be available.

Inside, the instrument panel has an ECO Guide to promote economical driving habits and is contoured toward the driver to suggest a cockpit feel with precise gauges and controls for an overall sport performance experience without sacrificing comfort or roominess. Modern standard features such as six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, illuminated vanity mirrors and a trip computer further expand the cabin’s luxurious qualities. In addition to offering a comfortable cabin, impressive technology features also come standard throughout, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system.

Kia Optima Hybrid / Specifications

Exterior Dimensions

Overall Length: 4845 mm (190.7 inches)
Width: 1830 mm (72.0 inches)
Height: 1450 mm (57.0 inches)
Wheel base: 2795 mm (110.0 inches)

Powertrain / 2.4-liter hybrid

Gasoline engine

Capacity/type 2.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve

Power 168 ps / 166 hp

Torque 209 Nm / 154 lb ft

Electric motor

Power 40.7 ps / 30 kW

Torque 205 Nm / 151 lb ft

Combined System

Power 209 ps / 206.2 hp

Torque 265 Nm / 195.4 lb ft



Automatic 6-speed (without torque converter)

Clutch Wet type, laminated

Weights & Capacities

Kerb weight 1,583 kg / 3,490 lb

Fuel tank 17.2 gal (US) / 65 liters

Trunk 280 liters / 9.89 cu ft

Fuel Economy*

City 36.0 mpg

Highway 40.0 mpg

Combined 38.0 mpg

*manufacturer’s estimated figures, US gallons

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Comments (5)

alamak alamak
FYI, this is a hybrid, its more towards mpg the mph. If you want fast, you can always buy the 2.0 turbo direct injection good for 270hp.......
Nov 20th, 2010 10:16am
0 0
looks pretty good, but for the power it's just slow
Nov 19th, 2010 11:35am
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PeterPL PeterPL
I just love this car. It is one of the best designed cars evet to me. But unfortunately I have to admit that performance and fuel comsumtion isnt very impressive in this case.
Nov 19th, 2010 11:04am
0 0
eddie eddie
Kia and Hyundia are making some nice cars. Most bang for the buck
Nov 18th, 2010 9:43pm
0 0
abugatti abugatti
agree. this new kia looks so much better than Camry or Accord.
Nov 19th, 2010 12:26am
0 0