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    Kia hopping on the 48-volt ultra-mild hybrid bandwagon


    Kia has announced that it will join an expanding line of automakers, including Audi, Ram, Volvo and others, adding ultra-mild 48-volt hybrid systems to their engines. The system works like other systems in that it has a combination starter and generator connected to the engine crank via a belt. It allows the engine to be shut off earlier than simply at a stop, and provides a bit of electrical assistance to reduce how much the engine has to work on takeoff.

    The system will first be implemented in Europe with the Kia Sportage and with its diesel engine in 2018. In 2019, the Kia Ceed small car will also be offered with the system. Kia says the system will also appear on gasoline engines in the near future. However, a representative from Kia's U.S. branch wouldn't comment either way on whether the technology will come to America.

    We think it's a pretty safe bet that we'll see the technology offered in the U.S. soon. Kia makes it clear that this system is designed to be easy to implement. It says there are hardly any packaging issues, usually putting the battery under the trunk floor, and the starter/generator motor doesn't typically require reworking the engine bay much. It also should work with rear-, front-, or all-wheel-drive layouts and with manual and automatic transmissions. If it were only going to be on diesel engines, we could see how Kia might not bring it, but since it will also be featured on gas engines, we're sure it will show up on our shores soon.

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