Kia’s R&D Masterminds Share Some Great News August 22nd, 2012

Nowadays, ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘green’ are becoming cliché marketing terms used by numerous brands across multiple industries. However, Kia Motors has always respected the responsibility that these terms suggest, and believes that earning non-biased and accredited environmental certifications gives our customers a reason to believe not only in our brand, but also in Mother Nature.

Kia achieved an important environmental milestone this month by having three of its newest models earn renowned certifications for their minimal impact on the environment. Today, three bright researchers from our research and development center have contributed a special guest post that illustrates what it takes to earn these certificates and to be truly ‘green.’

Kia Motors earns environmental certificates from TÜV Nord

Hello Kia-Buzz readers,

It’s been a scorching summer with the heat wave, typhoon and all kinds of unpredictable weather phenomena happening here in Korea. Experiencing varying weather conditions brings to mind the underlying environmental issues that affect our planet’s climate such as global warming.

When Kia undergoes the development of new vehicles, we pay close attention to minimizing their impact on the environment. The ability to incorporate light weight and fuel efficient technologies while avoiding heavy metals can tremendously reduce the ecological footprint of automobiles on our planet. That’s why we continue to focus on being more environmentally friendly and going beyond just saying we’re “green” by actually showing results that our environmentally conscious customers can believe in.

With that said, we’re proud to announce that three new Kia vehicles have earned environmental certifications from TÜV Nord Group, the renowned independent technical inspection organization.

These environmental certifications are in accordance with the environmental policies of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They are achieved according to two major ISO standards: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based on the ISO 14040 series and Design for Environment (DfE) based on ISO 14062. We’ll explain the contents of the certifications briefly below.

TÜV Nord Group is an international certification organization with more than 10,000 engineers from approximately 70 different countries and is headquartered in northern Germany. They supervise the international certification process of all industries and are well known in the automotive sector. Accordingly, many top automotive brands in Germany have their environmental certification testing conducted by TÜV Nord Group.

Kia’s first TÜV Nord certification was earned in 2008 with the first generation cee’d, and this year’s certifications bring the total number of Kia models with ISO 14040 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) certification to ten. Furthermore, both the first and second (current) generations of Kia’s cee’d C-segment vehicle for the European market have earned DfE: Design for Environment (ISO 14062) certifications, giving Kia certifications in all of major environment-related certifications from TÜV Nord.

What Does Environmentally Friendly Really Mean?

You might be wondering, “How can we define a standard for ‘environmental friendliness’? Is there really a clear solution to finding out if a new vehicle is ‘environmentally friendly’?”

This is where the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) test comes into play.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

In order to find out the exact rate that shows the environmental improvement from newly developed vehicles, Kia Motors has been utilizing a method called LCA. The LCA inspection examines the environmental impact of both the car and its overall manufacturing process throughout the course of its lifetime, taking into account factors such as choice of materials, engine exhaust emissions and recycling. So Kia’s new product development process includes the following five major steps that cover the development, production, repair and disposal phases of all Kia vehicles.

  • Application of an eco-friendly check-sheet throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle
  • Utilization of 3D drawings at the design stage for verifying recyclability
  • Breakdown of the product during the development process to verify recyclability
  • Usage of eco-friendly materials
  • Streamlining the manufacturing process through improvements in materials and parts design simplification

  • Calculate the input and output amount of substances used at all steps
  • Multiply the amount of substance by its factor for causing environmental problems
  • Calculate the environmental impact of the product during its entire life cycle

Kia Motors started applying LCA on vehicle parts in 2006, and we have building more experience over the years.

What about Kia Motor’s new vehicles in 2012?

Kia Motors has continued to produce attractive new vehicles in 2012, which have all utilized LCA, such as the second generation cee’d, luxury Quoris sedan; the upgraded Sorento R; and the Optima Hybrid, which will soon be available in the European market.

So how much improvement does the cee’d, upgraded Sorento, and Optima Hybrid show in terms of environmental impact? Let’s take a look at the results.

With great looks and technology, the cee’d has captivated the European market, and compared to the previous model, its environmental friendliness has improved significantly. For instance, its Global Warming Potential (GWP) has improved by 15.6% over the previous model. The GWP is a measurement used to show the effects that the life cycle of a product has on global warming. In other words, this means that the cee’d produces 4.5 tons less greenhouse gases than before.

Acidification Potential (AP) measures the acid gases that are released into the air and potential for falling “acid rain” which is absorbed by plants, soil and surface waters leading to leaf damage that can negatively affect the growth of plants.

Photochemical Oxidant Creation Potential (POCP) is the scientific term for the amount of smog created in the overall product life process. Both AP and POCP improved by 13% and 7.5%, respectively for the cee’d.

The reasons for such significant gains in environmental improvement are better mileage and a reduction in exhaust gas emission.

Next is the upgraded Sorento, which was released this past July. Compared to its predecessor, the Sorento also improved significantly in terms of environmental friendliness. Its Global Warming Potential improved by 10.5% and its Acidification Potential by 7.3%.

The reason for its improved environmental friendliness is due to its mileage improvement and reduction of exhaust emissions.

The Optima Hybrid also improved dramatically over its previous models by a whopping 24.5%, and demonstrated Kia’s excellence in hybrid technology. This means that 8.9 tons of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide have been reduced.

As you can see, Kia vehicles are increasingly becoming environmentally sound, and this has been proven through LCA testing and further validated by respected organizations such as the TÜV Nord Group.

Kia Motors will continue to strive for environmental sustainability and you can continue to count on us.

Thank you.

Doo Nam Moon, Yu Jin Bae and Sung Won Cho


Hyundai-Kia R&D Center

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See more BUZZ postings on Kia’s continuous effort for environmental improvement