Kia invests R1.2-billion in electric and hybrid engine plant amid EV demand

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

• Kia has upgraded its manufacturing capabilities at its plant in Žilina, Slovakia.

• The facility will assemble the brand's new 'Smartstream' 1.5-litre 'Kappa' petrol and mild-hybrid powertrains, and 1.6-litre 'Gamma' T-GDi motors.

• The company says this is a proactive response to increased demand for electrified vehicles. 

• The new engines were developed in-house at the Namyang R&D centre. 

South Korean carmaker Kia is proactively responding to the increased demand for electric vehicles by upgrading its European vehicle and engine production plant Žilina, Slovakia.

A €70-million or around R1.2-billion investment made by the company earlier in 2020 sees it gearing up the plant to produce its new 'Smartstream' internal combustion and hybrid powertrains.


Move towards hybridisation and electrification

The investment in Žilina allows the plant to produce and assemble new gasoline engines in response to changing market demands, Kisa says.

They will now focus on building small-capacity, high-efficiency, hybrid-compatible gasoline engines on three engine production lines, with the fourth dedicated to the brand's latest 'Smartstream' 1.6-litre diesel engine.

This is a proactive move by the carmaker towards hybridisation and electrification, in line with the broader European market trend.

The investment also enables the production of Kia's latest 'Smartstream' powertrains, based on new 1.5-litre 'Kappa' and 1.6-litre 'Gamma' T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engines.

These new four-cylinder gasoline engines will be the base of the company's hybridisation and emissions reduction strategies in Europe, the company says.

Both new engines are designed to integrate with its 'EcoDynamics+' 48V mild-hybrid system. In addition, the 'Gamma' 1.6-litre T-GDi is designed to integrate with hybrid powertrain technologies.


"Continued investment in our Slovakia plant will help us to meet the changing demands of European drivers," comments Emilio Herrera, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Motors Europe. "We have already seen a marked increase in demand for electrified gasoline vehicles. This investment in advanced powertrain production unlocks our ability to bring electrification to a wider customer base."

"At present, more than a quarter of the cars Kia sells in Europe are electrified in some form – a number that will only grow in the years ahead," adds Herrera.

"Our new engines allow for even greater efficiency and a quicker transition into the 'electrified era' thanks to their ease of integration with hybrid systems. We are proud to be able to manufacture Kia's latest powertrain technologies here in Europe, for European customers."


Hybrid engine tech 

While the new engines are assembled in Europe, they have been designed and engineered in-house at global R&D headquarters in Namyang, Korea.

'Smartstream' technologies incorporated for lower emissions

The new 1.5-litre T-GDi engine replaces the current 1.4-litre T-GDi, and will be deployed in various production Kia models in future.

It produces 117kW, the new 'Kappa' engine is 14% more powerful than its 103kW predecessor; it also produces 4.5% more torque at 253Nm, and is up to 7% more efficient, claims Kia.

The new 'Gamma' engine is a development of the existing 1.6-litre T-GDi engine. This adopts the company's latest 'Smartstream' technologies to lower fuel consumption by up to 8% compared to its predecessor.

It produces marginally more power output at 132kW; torque output remains at 265Nm.

Both new engines feature latest 'Smartstream' powertrain innovations, designed to reduce emissions and aid on-road performance seamlessly, says the carmaker. 


New model announcements

Kia says it will reveal further plans for the roll-out of its new engines before the end of 2020, including internal combustion engine mild-hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

The homologation process for emissions and fuel efficiency will also be revealed in line with announcements relating to specific model lines.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
What's more important when you're deciding to purchase a vehicle?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
29% - 219 votes
Safety features
9% - 71 votes
39% - 296 votes
Good fuel consumption
12% - 88 votes
5% - 39 votes
Power figures
5% - 41 votes