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Kia takes up Challenge with gas hybrid Cerato

Going gas: Kia's Forte LPI hybrid is on track to become Australia's first LPG hybrid when launched Down Under as the Cerato LPI next year.

Green Challenge entry brings Kia Australia one step closer to 2010 Cerato LPI hybrid

8 Oct 2009

KIA Motors Australia will take another step towards the introduction of Australia’s first liquid petroleum injection (LPI) electric hybrid car when it enters a pair of Korean-specification Fortes – known in Australia as the Cerato – in the 2009 Global Green Car Challenge starting in Darwin on October 24.

Powered by a 1.6-litre 85kW LPI ‘Gamma’ engine with a ‘mild hybrid’ 15kW electric motor sandwiched – Honda style – between the engine flywheel and CVT transmission, the Forte LPI cars will be driven 3000km down the Stuart Highway to Adelaide in an economy run against some of the world’s most efficient showroom vehicles to highlight the cost-effectiveness of the LPG alternative.

In Korea, the gas hybrid is claimed to achieve a combined fuel efficiency rating of 5.6 litres per 100km on LPG – an feat that the Australian LPG industry says could provide “one-dollar-day motoring”.

By comparison, the only current factory-fitted LPG car on the market in Australia, the E-Gas Ford Falcon, uses 14.9L/100km in the official ADR 81/02 test, although Ford is expecting improvements when it upgrades to liquid injection from next year.

GoAuto understands that Kia Motors Australia has all but sealed its plans to introduce the car next year as a halo model at the top of the Cerato small-car range.

17 center imageLeft: Kia Forte (Cerato) LPI. Below: Hyundai Elantra LPI.

Korean sister company Hyundai is also considering Australian introduction of its own LPI hybrid entrant, the Elantra LPI – a mechanical twin of the Forte/Cerato LPI.

Both have been working on business cases for the cars which have been introduced in the South Korean market where LPG is widespread.

Both cars use the latest liquid injection technology in place of the traditional gaseous fuel delivery – a system that is said to provide fuel-burn improvements for greater efficiency and cleaner emissions – along with a fuel-saving idle/stop system.

The electric motor provides acceleration boost when needed, while recharging the lithium-ion batteries under deceleration in ‘regenerative braking’.

In June, Kia told GoAuto that it was planning to bring an evaluation car to Australia to test it on Australia’s LPG, which apparently has a different formula with less butane than in Australia where the LPG is generally a 50/50 butane/propane mix.

Presumably, the Forte LPIs entered by Kia in the showroom section of the Global Green Car Challenge are evaluation cars, fitted with an Australia-standard refueling nozzle fitment in place of the Korean-style inlet.

While the Forte LPI’s litres-per-100km comparison with other entries in the Global Green Car Challenge will not stand scrutiny, as many of the small diesel-engine cars such as the Ford Fiesta Econetic can achieve sub-4.0L/100km figures, the Kia car is expected to excel in cents-per-kilometre comparisons, thanks to the relative price of LPG versus petrol.

At 50 cents a litre for LPG, a Cerato LPI driver should spend $2.80 per 100km, compared with about $4.50 for both the Toyota Prius Hybrid on petrol at 115 cents a litre and Mini Cooper D of diesel at about $1.17 a litre.

LPG Australia says such figures could mean fuel-cost savings of up to $400 a year for average drivers covering about 15,000km a year.

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