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Report: Kia Developing Toyota Prius Rival

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/2/2014 Eric Weiner

The Toyota Prius has long dominated the non-plug-in hybrid market, but a new report suggests that Kia is looking to steal some of that car's thunder. Autocar indicates that within two years, Kia will storm the scene with a hybrid five-door hatchback on a new, bespoke platform internally known as “DE.”

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Kia’s new hybrid-powered hatch would use a new hybrid transmission in concert with an electric motor and a 1.6-liter gasoline engine, potentially the same mill seen in the Kia Forte5/Koup SX and Hyundai Veloster. Not only would the new hybrid help draw some sales away from the popular Prius, but it would also help Kia adhere to the looming emissions regulations that all automakers will be face in Europe by 2020.

2014 Kia Optima Hybrid EX Hybrid Badge© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid EX Hybrid Badge

Autocar predicts that the Kia hybrid would be slightly smaller than a Volkswagen Golf, with exterior styling that’s less polarizing than the design of the Prius (a new version of the Prius, incidentally, debuts next year). Inside, Kia could take the hybrid hatch in a cleaner and more upscale direction. The DE platform also has the potential to birth other body style and drivetrain combinations.

It wouldn’t be the first time an automaker has sought to dethrone the mighty Prius, so Kia will have a fight on its hands for sure. Earlier speculation about a Prius-fighter centered on Hyundai possibly gearing up with its own challenger, so it is possible that the project has been shifted over to Kia’s side of the Korean company’s operations.

Another possibility is that Kia has developed the project on its own from the beginning. We’ve seen as recently as the Paris auto show in September that Kia is thinking seriously about future hybrid models, as evidenced by the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept, and the company already sells a hybrid version of today's Optima sedan.

Source: Autocar

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