Wednesday 1 April 2009

Kia unveils new wind-assisted Areo Soul

It's not only Hyundai that is planning special editions of vehicles, sister car firm, Kia is set to introduce a new wind assisted aero Soul. The Korean automaker unveiled the wind-assisted version of the Soul, with sales to begin next month.

The vehicle uses a low-cost system that can mount to any products in Kia's line-up. Available with new cars and retroactively, the Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line uses sensors to detect wind speed as the Soul is driving down the highway. Once wind speed is at a strong enough rate, panels built into the bumpers are deployed to harness the wind power to assist in speeding up the car.

This system does not just work when the car is running at speed. When braking or decelerating the panels also pop out like drag chutes to help slow the car down. Also part of the system is a reverse thruster that drops down from behind the exhaust pipe to reduce the strain on the brakes.

From her Mabuk, Korea, office, Kia green-technology engineer Avril Babo said, "The big problem with most emission reduction systems is that they are expensive. We wanted to come up with an answer that didn't cost the earth and could be retrospectively applied to cars already on the road."

Testing in Nong Dam shows that fuel efficiency can be increased by 25%, with emissions reduced by as much as 40%. When using the system while on a severe downhill slope, fuel use and CO2 emissions drops to almost nothing. The system is even beneficial if you live in a calmer environment. Just using the system to help braking can reduce fuel use by 10%, decrease emissions by 15%, and extend brake-pad life by nearly 50%.

The Kia Aero-Soul concept, with the Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line, or A.P.R.I.L., will be available shortly. Pricing will be revealed closer to the release date.

Press Release:


In a dramatic move aimed at delivering environmental benefits without expensive technology Kia has revealed its new Aero-Soul concept that reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions with a simple and low-cost system called Air Propulsion and Retardation Installation Line.

Although unveiled on the company's stylish and fun cross-over Soul the patented system can be easily extended to all the company's vehicles and will even be available as a bolt-on accessory for vehicles already in use.

The system relies on small sensors built into the front and rear bumpers which monitor external wind speed and deploy panels when the wind is sufficient to provide additional directional impetus according to the car's behaviour.

So at cruising speeds if the wind behind the car is strong - such as in winter gales - the panels will harness wind power to provide forward motion. If the car is slowing or under braking the panels will deploy to provide additional retardation effort. Additionally a small electrically powered baffle can be lowered just behind the exhaust pipe under harsh braking to provide the kind of "reverse-thrust" normally associated with aircraft during landing - this element will only be available as a factory-fitted device.

Systems Manager Avril Babo at Kia's Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, south of Seoul said: "The big problem with most emission reduction systems is that they are expensive. We wanted to come up with an answer that didn't cost the earth and could be retrospectively applied to cars already on the road.

"Tests of this system at our Nong Dam facility have shown that during windy weather fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 25% and emissions by anything up 40%. Even in calm weather using the system simply under braking can result in reductions of 10% and 15% respectively. In perfect conditions - downhill with a following wind fuel use and exhaust gasses can be reduced to almost zero! Plus, brake-pad life can be extended by anything up to 50%depending on driver behaviour, she added.

The new A.P.R.I.L. system will be available on all vehicles ordered after midnight on March 31, 2010 and the accessory pack will be available the following day. Prices will be announced in due course.

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