11/18/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Kia Targets 2020 for Fuel Cell Vehicle, Semi-Autonomous Technologies

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Kia Motors Corp. aims to hike its corporate average fuel economy 25% by 2020 in large part by expanding its lineup of "green" vehicles to 11 models from four today.

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Kia Motors Corp. aims to hike its corporate average fuel economy 25% by 2020 in large part by expanding its lineup of "green" vehicles to 11 models from four today. The new fuel efficient vehicles will include more hybrid-electric models and the brand's first mainstream fuel cell vehicle.

The initiative, which is part of a planned 11.3 trillion won ($10.2 billion) investment by parent Hyundai Motor Group in fuel-efficient technologies and new plants by the end of the decade, will start next summer with a plug-in hybrid version of the Optima midsize sedan and the all-new Niro hybrid crossover.

Kia's unnamed fuel cell vehicle will feature a new fuel cell stack that is more efficient and 10% more powerful than current systems. The car will have a top speed of 105 mph and a driving range of more than 500 miles on a tank of hydrogen fuel, according to the company. It says the stack also will be 15% lighter and smaller, which will make it about the same size as a 2.0-liter internal combustion engine.

The company is working with 300 partners to develop the next-generation fuel-cell system. It plans to make about 1,000 fuel cell vehicles per year initially. The carmaker, which has been developing the technology since 1998, previously leased a handful of prototype fuel cell vehicles.

Hyundai introduced its ix35 fuel cell vehicle a year ago and aims to sell 10,000 fuel cell vehicles worldwide in coming years.

Kia also plans to launch its first wave of semi-autonomous driving technologies by 2020. The systems will team current adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technologies to allow for autonomous driving on select highways. Other features will include advanced parking aides including remote control capability and eventually driver-assist technologies geared for stop-and-go traffic.

Kia doesn't expect full self-driving vehicles to be available until at least 2030.