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Kia kids itself

Putting the wind up 'em: Kia's creative wind-assist device, announced on April 1.

Kia Aero-Soul concept emerges with low-cost fuel-reduction device, or is it?

1 Apr 2009

PROOF that the automotive industry – or at least Kia UK – has not lost its sense of humour in times of unprecedented turbulence has emerged today, April 1, in the shape of the wind-assisted Kia Aero-Soul.

In what amounts to a reasonably elaborate but inexpensive April fool’s day hoax, the Korean car-maker has revealed a concept version of its funky new Soul hatchback, which goes on sale in Australia this week, fitted with a low-cost fuel and emissions-saving system dubbed Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line (APRIL).

Strictly embargoed until 12.01am today, the news of the APRIL system was accompanied by two enhanced images of an otherwise standard red Soul, driving at speed with an extra upper tailgate fitted to both the front and rear of the car.

According to Kia: “The system relies on small sensors built into the front and rear bumpers which monitor external wind speed and deploy panels when the wind is sufficient to provide additional directional impetus according to the car’s behaviour.

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“So at cruising speeds if the wind behind the car is strong – such as in winter gales – the panels will harness wind power to provide forward motion. If the car is slowing or under braking the panels will deploy to provide additional retardation effort.

“Additionally a small electrically powered baffle can be lowered just behind the exhaust pipe under harsh braking to provide the kind of “reverse-thrust” normally associated with aircraft during landing.”

While the Aero-Soul’s reverse-thrust apparatus will only be available as a factory-fitted option, Kia says the patented APRIL system could easily be extended to all of its models – and will even be available as a bolt-on accessory for used Kias.

“The big problem with most emission reduction systems is that they are expensive,” said systems manager Avril Babo at Kia’s Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, south of Seoul.

“We wanted to come up with an answer that didn’t cost the earth and could be retrospectively applied to cars already on the road.

“Tests of this system at our Nong Dam facility have shown that during windy weather fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 25 per cent and emissions by anything up 40 per cent.

“Even in calm weather using the system simply under braking can result in reductions of 10 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. In perfect conditions – downhill with a following wind - fuel use and exhaust gasses can be reduced to almost zero!“Plus, brake-pad life can be extended by anything up to 50 per cent depending on driver behaviour,” she added.

Said Kia: “APRIL will be available on all vehicles ordered after midnight on March 31, 2010 and the accessory pack will be available the following day.”

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