If Kia’s chief powertrain engineer gets his way, the Korean automaker will continue its push to reduce harmful carbon emissions by building its future models (like the Rio-based Trackster, above) to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
Dr. Joachim Hahn, speaking to the automotive press at the Geneva auto show last week, voiced his strong support for CNG as a means to a quick, inexpensive way for automakers to cut emissions, saying “With all the work we do on internal combustion engines and hydrogen-powered cars, making big gains in CO2 reduction is either incredibly difficult or incredible expensive. That’s why I see big potential in CNG. It can offer a 20 per cent CO2 reduction just like that – what other technology can give you that?”
Indeed, Hahn’s comments mirror the “shotgun” philosophy that Kia’s parent company, Hyundai, seems to be following, with its R&D team pushing out everything from “conventional” gas-electric hybrid Elantra sedans to hydrogen fuel-cell electrics and dual-fuel compacts in Europe capable of seamlessly switching between gasoline and Propane. All of which are “future-proofed”, of course, by Hyundai’s forward-thinking Assurance program, which guarantees a new car buyer’s resale value in the face of a wildly uncertain future of fuel …
… wildly uncertain, that is, for most of us. Dr. Hahn seems pretty sure he’s bet on the right horse with CNG. “It’s also cheaper for the consumer than petrol and easier to store than either electricity or hydrogen. What’s more, a wider spread of use of CNG would take some emphasis off oil, and open up more opportunities for worldwide suppliers – there would be no reliance on certain countries for supply.”
Here’s hoping, then, Hyundai/Kia let their guy run with it – if for no other reason than to show Honda that everything they can do, Hyundai can do.