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Kia to launch electric Picanto

Kia is to launch an electric version of its Picanto in Europe within the next three years.

The next generation Picanto goes on sale next year and electric versions will go into production in Korea in 2012.

The Picanto EV will be powered by a 50kw lithium polymer battery, preferred by the South Korean carmaker to lithium-ion because they are smaller and produce more power according to Chi Young Jeong, senior research engineer at the company's technical centre in Namyang.

The new Picanto will also be available with a new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine which in 2012 will be turbocharged to give a ‘hot' version of the small car boasting 110bhp.

Last year Kia launched an LPG hybrid version of its Forte C-segment model on the domestic Korean market - a precursor to diesel hybrid systems that will come to Europe within the next two years, according to company insiders.

LPG is widely available in South Korea, is about half the price of petrol and is used by buses and taxi.

Kia's plug-in hybrid is currently being trialled by government fleets in South Korea and is expected on the market by the end of 2012 or early 2013.

The eco roll-out will be completed when Kia's hydrogen fuel cell vehicles goes on sale later in the decade.

Joeng said that fuel cell vehicles are currently on trial in South Korea and the United States.

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