A recent survey shows that Kia has established itself as the leading auto maker among Generation Y car buyers, beating out the likes of Honda and Toyota. So with the unveiling of their brand new 2011 Optima Hybrid at the LA Auto Show, to no one’s surprise, Kia’s first-ever hybrid for the U.S. market was met with great reception.

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Building on the standard Optima’s sleek look, the Hybrid model surpasses the gas-model with several technological innovations. Instead of the traditional nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion battery that is used in hybrid cars, the Optima Hybrid uses a more advanced lithium-polymer source designed specifically for the new model. This new battery is capable of holding a larger charge (30 kW) providing a extra 25% of driving time, while only weighting 95.9 lbs (43 kg).

The car also boasts a unique Hybrid-Starter-Generator (HSG) –  a 8.5 kilowatt starter motor-generator that is belt-driven and operates at the same 270 volts as the electric traction motor and the lithium polymer battery. However, it does not provide power and instead is used only to start the engine and charge the hybrid battery.

Additionally, the engine of the Optima Hybrid‘s 2.4-liter direct-injected inline-four electric motor delivers 40 hp (30 kW) and 151 lb-ft (205 Nm) of torque, bringing the total output to 206 hp and 195 lb-ft (264 Nm) when combined with the 2.4-liter Atkinson Cycle petrol engine.  However, according to Kia, the car can still be driven solely on the electric engine and it is able to reach speeds of up to 62 mph (100 km/h).

In a statement, Michael Sprague, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Kia Motors America said, “By adding our first-ever hybrid in the U.S. to the Optima lineup we are providing consumers with three powerful and fuel-efficient powertrain choices, and continuing KIA’s philosophy of offering stylish, value-packed vehicles with outstanding fuel efficiency.”

Kia also showed off their Kia Pop, which was originally unveiled at the Paris Motor Show a couple of months ago.

+ Kia

Via La Auto Show