Written by Stephen Goldasz ▼

Kia to sell hydrogen powered cars

Kia to sell hydrogen powered cars

Kia will start selling cars powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology by 2015 at the latest.

The South Korean automaker will convert one of its current models from its range into a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), although it has yet to actually decide which car will be the first to be converted and put on sale.

Kia has previously built hydrogen concept cars in the past, including one based on the Sportage SUV back in 2003. According to Kia this concept model could travel 500 miles on a tank of hydrogen, achieving an equivalent fuel economy of 54mpg.

A similarly large or crossover SUV like the current Sportage could become the first production Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle by Kia.

A first production hydrogen models could possibly target the family car segment. These cars are also widely anticipated to hit markets globally, including the UK.

An FCEV is a hydrogen-powered car that uses a fuel cell to charge an electric motor which drives the vehicle; this method acts in a similar fashion to how batteries operate a motor in used for electric cars.

The only by-product that comes out of hydrogen-powered cars is water.

The move to create hydrogen cars is just one part of Kia’s alternative-fuel strategy which is seeing the company create a variety of alternative ‘green’ cars including hybrids and battery-electric vehicles.

Back in 2010, Kia was one of seven manufacturers to sign an agreement to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles commercially available by the middle of the coming decade.

At the moment the manufacturer is working on launching production hybrid cars with petrol-electric motor powertrains, after revealing concepts at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, including a hybrid version of the Soul hatchback and cee’d hatchback.

Kia is also continuing development on new electric vehicles. The three-seater Pop concept city car, unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, provides a hint at what the manufacturer has in mind when it comes to purely electric cars.

While it is developing several different alternative-fuel vehicles at the same time, Kia views hydrogen cars alone as the long term solution to replacing petrol-powered cars and hybrids, which it views as a stop-gap.

While FCEVs has its own advantages include zero emissions and quick refuelling, concerns have also been raised over several issues including the consumption rate of such cars and the current cost of the required technology.

As for the infrastructure, currently only one publicly accessible fuelling station for hydrogen cars exists in the UK, which was opened in Swindon during September 2011.

Kia still insists though that it’s committed to releasing a hybrid production car to worldwide markets including the UK within the next four years. Details on pricing, production numbers or market specific changes have yet to be announced.