Hello, Kia BUZZ readers! Today, I’d like to introduce the various new technologies that are in the cutting-edge 『Optima Hybrid』, from VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System), which alerts pedestrians that the vehicle is approaching, to the regenerative brake system, which converts kinetic energy into electric energy when the vehicle slows down.
1. Pedestrian Safety – VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System)
Hybrid vehicles can operate by employing an electric motor without a gasoline engine, unlike traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, which produce less noise. This may make it difficult for pedestrians to be aware of the vehicle’s presence. Recent results from a survey conducted in the U.S. showed that hybrid vehicles have a much higher rate of being involved in pedestrian accidents than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.
Regarding this issue, VESS (Virtual Engine Sound System) is a technology that protects pedestrians by notifying them that the car is approaching when the hybrid vehicle is in electric-only mode. Vehicle information, such as its speed, transmission lever position, engine state and driving conditions, is entered into the VESS unit. The unit then reads the information and emits a pre-recorded engine sound through speakers.
The virtual engine sound is tuned to be similar to the volume and sound quality of a gasoline engine. It has been developed to change sound volume according to the vehicle’s speed so that pedestrians could listen to it naturally.
2. Active Air Flap
In an effort to improve fuel efficiency, the 『Optima Hybrid』 comes with an Active Air Flap, which actively reduces air resistance and optimizes aerodynamics.
The Active Air Flap controls the flow of air for the cooling of the engine by installing a flap that can open and close on the rear of the bumper grille.
As traditional vehicles cannot control air flowing into a radiator grille, they take in unnecessary external air when the engine is cooling and interior air heating is needed. On the other hand, the 『Optima Hybrid』 is able to completely control the flow of outside air through the Active Air Flap.
Additionally, the 『Optima Hybrid』improves fuel efficiency with the enhanced aerodynamics performance from the Active Air Flap. It also reduces unnecessary engine warming by decreasing the time it takes to start the engine when it is cold and increasing efficiency greatly with an upgraded heating performance.
3. Regenerative Brake System for Fuel Efficiency and Braking Power
Like other hybrids, the 『Optima Hybrid』 features a regenerative brake system, which uses an electric motor as an electric generator to charge the battery and to control the braking power depending on the generation of the motor.
The brake system of conventional gasoline-powered cars intensifies power to the brake by using the vacuum compression coming from an operating engine. However, hybrid vehicles required the development of a new brake system optimized for hybrids to be able to provide the same breaking effect when only the electric motor is in operation.
The regenerative brake system in the 『Optima Hybrid』 comes with a hydraulic electromotive booster that is capable of creating hydraulic pressure regardless of which engine is in operation and using it to create braking power while the engine stops.
Therefore, there can be consistent braking even when the motor is operating alone and driving conditions change. The braking system can correspond to the motor power generation to ensure a constant braking force that can be controlled.
Notably, the system applies a hydraulic electromotive booster and improves fuel efficiency greatly compared to gasoline vehicles on the same level by controlling the braking power of the wheels to maximize the motor’s generation the regenerative braking process.
In addition, it places a special pedal simulator in the braking actuator unit for a natural brake pedal feel. It also has a double safety structure that delivers the pedal pressure that a driver exerts into each wheel, even when the pedal simulator stops, in case of emergency and in which the vehicle’s electricity supply is cut off.
Up to now, we have examined the『Optima Hybrid』 through three postings. The 『Optima Hybrid』 provides remarkably improved fuel efficiency and dynamic driving as a vehicle that is closest to the car of the future. Looking forward, we plan to introduce many more hybrid vehicles.
FYI we will come up soon with a detailed posting about Optima hybrid test drive by Colin Jang as he did to all-new Picanto (http://kia-buzz.com/?p=6650) and all-new Sportage Turbo GDI (http://kia-buzz.com/?p=7355). Stay tuned!