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The Kia Niro concept, at top and above

NZ in 2030: Will most of our cars be cleaner-burning hybrids?

on November 18 2015 | in Highlights, Industry news, Latest news | by | with Comments Off

Fast forward to 2030 in New Zealand. What will we be driving? Cars with traditional petrol and diesel powertrains, or mostly hybrids? How about battery-electric?

Nothing we have seen maps out the make-up of New Zealand’s car park 14 years from now. But there are projections for what motorists in the UK and Europe will be driving by then.

A motoring industry study concludes that petrol- and diesel-only vehicles will shrink and more than six out of 10 passenger cars on the road in the UK and Europe in 2030 will be hybrids and plug-in electrics. Here are the findings:

  • petrol 11%
  • diesel 8%
  • hybrid 42%
  • electric 23%
  • hydrogen 16%

The study was done before Volkswagen admitted it had installed software in diesel vehicles to deceive US regulators about the true level of toxic emissions. Since then inquiries from the British public alone about cleaner hybrids and battery-electric cars have risen by more than 130 per cent.

Hefty cleaner-air taxes in the EU over the next few years will stall sales of diesel cars especially and hasten the growth of hybrids. Diesel has become a political football as local and central governments move to restrict its use in cities.

The French Government is to reduce the tax break on diesel in an effort to wean drivers off the fuel. Its levy on diesel is around NZ32cents per litre lower than petrol, the main reason why an estimated 60 per cent of France’s car fleet is diesel.

The Kia Niro concept, at top and above

The Kia Niro concept, at top and above

The fuel has faced growing criticism since the World Health Organisation in 2012 classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic. In California, diesel bus fleets in Sacramento and Los Angeles have been converted to run on much cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG).

The world’s carmakers want to have something for everyone. South Korea’s Kia, for example, plans to expand its low-emissions cars to from four to 11 by 2020. These will include hybrid, battery-electric and hydrogen cars.

Some 70 per cent of the company’s current range of engines will be replaced by units up to 25 per cent more fuel efficient, part of a US$10.3 billion investment in ‘greener’ technology by Kia’s parent, the Hyundai Motor Group.

Ki-Sang Lee, Kia’s senior vice-president of its eco-friendly research centre, said the development of electric vehicles (Kia built its first in 1986) was at the core of the programme.

“Global market demand is shifting to electric vehicles,” he said. “The electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle market will grow rapidly in the coming years. We don’t believe that there is one ‘silver bullet’ that can satisfy the demand for low emission technology within the car industry, so we forsee a wide range of eco-friendly powertrains co-existing for an extended period of time.”

One of those powertrains will be under the bonnet of the Niro concept, a ‘hybrid utility vehicle’ using a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with a 32kW electric motor, a lithium-polymer battery pack and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The production model is expected around the middle of next year.

“Our new model is designed to offer buyers everything they could want from a compact SUV in terms of practicality and styling, while providing the typically low running costs associated with a dedicated hybrid powertrain,” said Kia CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee.

Will Kia Motors NZ include the Niro in its line-up? “We evaluate every Kia model for New Zealand,” said general manager Todd McDonald.


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