By Colin Jang
Kia BUZZ Editor
What is the next-generation power source that will replace the internal combustion engine? At the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, many pointed to the electric vehicle. However, prominent global automakers are still hard at work to find the answer to that question. Kia Motors is making progress to commercialize the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).
On December 1, the test drive car of Mohave FCEV was unveiled at Kia’s domestic sales headquarters in Seoul’s Apgujeong-dong. Present at the unveiling were five consumers chosen for the test drive among 17,800 applicants. They were joined by local movie star Yu Ji-tae, lawmaker Won Hee-ryong and Lee Joon-hyun, president of Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning. The test drive will last for six months during which engineers will identify and make necessary corrections. Free charging will be available at six hydrogen charging stations in the Seoul metropolitan area.
In June, Kia Motors took part in the Hydrogen Road Tour 2009 in the US. Kia Borrego FCEV successfully completed the 2,655km course from San Diego in the US to Vancouver in Canada.
Several issues still have to be addressed for FCEV commercialization. They include the possibility of hydrogen leaks, charging time and building the infrastructure (hydrogen stations). The safety of Mohave FCEV has been proven through crash and fire testing, while the charging time is under five minutes, similar to diesel or gasoline cars. However, the necessary infrastructure has yet to be completed which relies on governments, energy companies, lobbying groups and citizens.
In terms of driving performance, the Mohave FCEV doesn’t pale compared to cars with an internal combustion engine. It has a maximum power of 110Kw/147hp (torque: 300Nm) and maximum speed of 163km/hr. It has a 0->60mph acceleration time of 12.5 seconds and can run 454km on a single charge under 350bar pressure.(From the video below, the Mohave FCEV can go 685Km on a single charge under 700 bar pressure). I had a chance to drive the Mohave FCEV. Like a car running on an electric motor, it was quiet and accelerating power was better than expected. Mohave FCEV is so quiet that it may even seem a little dull to drivers like me who enjoy the powerful roar of an internal combustion engine and exhaust sound.
Kia plans to begin small-scale production in 2012, with full-fledged production slated from 2015. The price tag will be about KRW50 million($50,000). It seems that zero emission cars of our dreams will soon become reality.
To learn more about Mohave FCEV, please take a look at the video below.