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Kia plan hybrids for Europe

Hybrids are on the way from ambitious Korean car maker Kia, but don’t expect to see them in Europe until at least 2011 or 2012.

That was the message as the firm announced it will put a petrol/electric mid-sized saloon hybrid – probably the next generation Rio – on sale in its home market during 2009.

The following year will see the production of a next generation model for South Korea and the USA, which will be a larger saloon. It could be as big as the E-segment Opirus, but is more likely to be smaller D-segment Magentis.

Kang Jaehoon, a senior manager in the hybrid development division, said: “The launch in Europe would be after that, so maybe 2011 or 2012, and would be either a C-segment or D-segment saloon.”

Kia has been working on hybrids for some years already, and currently has versions of the Rio on trial with the Korean government.

Prior to 2005 it was involved in what it calls ‘technology accumulation’ and is currently in a phase called ‘preparation for mass production’. When quizzed about what ‘mass production’ meant, Ho-Suck Jeon, senior executive vice-president of vehicle development said it the exact figure hadn’t been set. But he added it would be more than 3,000 units a year.

The third stage, which he says will start in 2010, is about offering different hybrids to suit different customers and markets.

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