• While Volkswagen Recovers from the Diesel Emissions Scandal, Kia Bets on Diesel with New 48V Mild Hybrid System

Diesel has had its place but is it time for it to die yet?

Between the Volkswagen Emission Scandal and so many other automakers cooking their emissions figures like an accountant for the Mob, the future of diesel looks bleak. Some automakers are trying to save them while others are starting to venture away from them. After all, electric cars are the future, right? Well, be that as it may, Kia is betting on diesel to stay around a little longer and even claims it can cut emissions by as much as seven percent on the NEDC cycle thanks to a new 48-volt mild-hybrid drivetrain.

What is Kia’s Mild-hybrid Diesel?

While Volkswagen Recovers from the Diesel Emissions Scandal, Kia Bets on Diesel with New 48V Mild Hybrid System
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Kia’s Mild Hybrid setup, which will go into production soon, is based on a diesel engine, and a 48-Volt mild-hybrid system. Like other mild hybrids of the era, this system uses a belt-driven starter generator that supplies power to a small battery – in this case, a 0.46 kWh battery – and the engine’s crankshaft when not in charge mode. The idea is that when the motor is working it can provide a mild boost of performance during hard acceleration while reducing emissions during usual acceleration and driving. The starter-generator will charge the battery when braking or coasting (as in down a hill) and will help turn the engine when needed. According to Kia, the system can add in 10 kW of power on demand, or about 13.5 horsepower.

Its inner workings are all seamless, and there should be no noticeable change to drivers. The small battery will probably be stored somewhere in the vehicle floor, or in the cargo area of SUVs. The whole system will also enable Kia to make use of a new start/stop system which should also help improve efficiency. The engine can even shut off during in-gear deceleration and braking should there be enough charge in that little battery to restart the engine on demand.

There’s no word as to what vehicle Kia will offer this new drivetrain in first, but it should come to the U.K. in the very near future and will eventually circulate to the rest of the global market. With the future of diesel being so bleak, however, it really makes you wonder why Kia hasn’t tried to offer this system on a gasoline-powered engine or, at the very least, contribute development costs to better EV development instead. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if the system can actually reduce emissions as much as Kia says it can. You can bet both the WLTP and NEDC scales will tell us the real truth in due time.


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Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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