New Kia Optima plug-in hybrid on sale next year

  • Optima PHEV to combine battery power with 2-litre petrol engine
  • Plug-in version expected to achieve 119mpg
  • Can travel up to 27 miles on electric power

Kia has revealed that the all-new Optima will be available with both hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric power within the next 12 months.

The new Optima Hybrid (HEV) will go on sale in the first half of 2016. With a larger battery pack, more powerful electric motor and revised transmission, the new car is expected to bring a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy over earlier versions.

Under the bonnet of the Optima HEV will be a 154bhp 2-litre petrol engine combined with a 38kW electric motor offering a total power output of 192bhp.

The battery pack now fits underneath the boot floor, rather than infringing slightly on the luggage space available, resulting in a more practical loading area and enabling the use of 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

Kia's second hybrid will be a plug-in version of the Optima (PHEV) and will be the firm's first plug-in vehicle when it goes on sale in the second half of 2016. The new car will be able to travel up to 27 miles on electric power alone, beating plug-in versions of the BMW 3 Series and Volvo XC90.

Combining a 50kW electric motor with Kia’s 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, the new car offers a total of 202bhp.

Based on internal tests carried out by Kia, the Optima PHEV is claimed to be able to achieve fuel economy of 119mpg combined and can be recharged in less than three hours at a charging station, or nine hours from a domestic socket via a charging port integrated into the driver's-side front panel.

The Optima PHEV and HEV will have their own distinct styling features to differentiate them from other models in the Optima range including a redesigned rear bumper, grille surround and wheel arches that will feature chrome and a metallic blue finish, as well as special ‘EcoHybrid’ and ‘EcoPlugin’ badging.

Kia aims to improve average fuel efficiency by 25 percent by 2020

Kia has ambitious targets to become a leader in the low emission vehicle market by 2020 and the new Optima hybrids will be key to the firms success. In the next five years, Kia will expand its current green car line-up from the four current models to 11, and is targeting a 25 percent improvementin its range's average fuel efficiency over 2014 levels.

The Kia Optima PHEV’s high-capacity lithium-polymer battery pack and transmission-mounted electric motor will be re-engineered for use across other Kia vehicles in future, while the brand is set to launch an all-new hybrid model in 2016.

Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation petrol and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines. Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a five percent reduction in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.