Kia used the Los Angeles Auto Show to reveal its latest hydrogen-powered concept, the Borrego Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). This newest take on its mid-size SUV brings a host of technological innovations that enhance performance, range and overall drivability. At the heart of Kia's zero-emissions hauler is a redesigned high-output hydrogen-powered fuel cell that makes 154 horsepower, 44 percent more ponies than the previous generation stack. This is paired with an equally potent 450-volt supercapacitor that can kick in an additional 134 horses to assist acceleration for short periods.
Kia claims the Gen II Borrego FCEV has a top speed of 100 mph and can reach 60 mph in 12.8 seconds. More importantly, its upgraded powertrain elements can transform the contents of a 202-liter hydrogen tank mounted below the floor and ahead of its rear wheels into a range of nearly 426 miles. That accomplishment nets it a best-in-class efficiency rating of 62 percent -- and a combined EPA combined equivalency mark of 54 mpg. Another real-world advantage of this new Kia setup is its ability to operate in sub-zero temperatures, overcoming a weakness that has previously limited the appeal of fuel cells in general.
Dr. Hyun Soon Lee, president of research and development for the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, characterized the breakthroughs in the Borrego FCEV as major steps on the way to making both fuel-cell powered and pure electric vehicles more attractive and more cost-effective alternatives for average consumers. An integral part of Hyundai's newly announced global Blue Drive initiative, the firm expects to deploy this new hardware in its first hydrogen-powered FCEV production models starting as early as 2012.