Kia Motors Demonstrates New Lead-Carbon Hybrid Drivetrain Technology

Kia Motors, the South Korean auto manufacture, has been previewing its future powertrains at the Geneva Motor Show this week including a mild hybrid which also uses an electric supercharger.

This new drivetrain, Kia say, should reduce diesel and petrol emissions by up to 15 per cent and it will be available on the next generation Kia models.

Reducing Emissions Through the Use of Electrical Power is Always Good. Now, Let's Just Add a Plug

Reducing Emissions Through the Use of Electrical Power is Always Good. Now, Let’s Just Add a Plug

What makes this hybrid system different – and why we are covering it – is that it doesn’t use lithium ion or  nickel metal hydride batteries to store power, instead using a 48 volt lead-carbon battery. This powers a small electric motor which increases the engine’s power output.

Kia say that the drivetrain will allow drivers to travel, at low speeds, in electric only mode. They also say that the lead-carbon battery was chosen over lithium ion ‘as they require no active cooling, are more easily recyclable at the end of the vehicle’s life and can function much more efficiently in sub-zero temperatures.’

This choice goes against a lot of other manufacturers who don’t seem to be concerned about these issues – for instance the LEAFs battery is not actively cooled and Tesla along with other manufacturers already have plans for recycling at the end of the battery’s useful car life.

The battery in the Kias also supplies power to an electric supercharger that increases torque and power at low engine speeds. When this is coupled with a larger conventional turbocharger it allows greater power and torque across all engine speeds. The lower speed torque being boosted by the electric supercharger and the higher speed torque being boosted by the turbocharger.

What do you think of the lead-carbon battery being used? Should we be moving towards all cars being at least mild hybrids? Let us know below.


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  • The battery in a BEV or plug-in hybrid needs high energy density, and there li-ion is the only logical choice. A (mild) hybrid needs high power and that is where lithium batteries are not so good. They lose their ability to absorb high amounts of power (regen) when cold. Note that the Model S has little or no regen with a cold battery.nnDue to the high power density, hybrid batteries can heat up faster than those of a BEV or plug-in hybrid. The power requirements of those types of vehicle are of course larger than in a mild hybrid, but the battery is much much much larger. There is simply more material and more surface area to absorb and disperse the heat. In a mild hybrid, all this power is coming from and going into a much smaller package. Hence, higher temperatures.nnAnother factor is of course price. Lead acid batteries are dirt cheap.

  • Bill Bradsky

    Does anyone know if there’s another producer of lead carbon batteries besides Axion Power International with their PbC?

  • Sophia Liam

    That is a gorgeous image. Did someone photoshop it for you, or is it CG? I love that it shows some parts of the car but leaves the rest blank and the background filled in. nnSophia Liam |