No matter how advanced our technologies become, cars that run on fossil fuels are bound to emit exhaust. Accordingly, a truly green alternative is a vehicle that runs on something other than fossil fuels. Hydrogen FCEVs run on electricity generated by the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen induced by the fuel cells. Since the only byproduct is water, FCEVs can tackle the twin issues of environmental degradation and energy depletion. The efficiency of the FCEV engine is also twice that of existing internal combustion engines. For the commercialization of hydrogen FCEVs, however, we first need an infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations and a more energy-efficient manufacturing process.
Since 1998, Kia Motors has been developing fuel cell technologies that are now applied to the Mohave (Borrego). Our low-temperature (-20 ˚C) startup technology has been certified, overcoming what was considered one of the major hurdles in the development of FCEVs. We are now focused on improving the durability of fuel cells while lowering the high production cost.
In 1999, we developed a fuel cell stack with a maximum output of 2 kW and output density of 0.2 kW/ℓ. Then in 2009, we succeeded in developing the Mohave (Borrego) FCEV, featuring a 115 kW full cell stack—the world’s most powerful—and a super capacitor, which is a next-generation energy storage unit. The fuel cell stack is built into the under floor for even weight distribution, enabling more dynamic driving performance and safer maneuverability. With its 700-bar hydrogen storage system, the Mohave FCEV can travel up to 758 km on a single charge and has a maximum speed of 160 km/h.
The Mohave FCEV is designed to minimize damage to the hydrogen tank and pipes in rear-end collisions. Moreover, it is equipped with a sensor to detect hydrogen leaks upon impact, fulfilling the safety requirements of U.S. automobile collision regulations.
Since 2004, the Mohave FCEV has been a part of a FCEV pilot program overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy. Kia Motors has also provided Mohave pilot fleets to the Blue House, government ministries and local governments, reaffirming the effectiveness of our FCEV technologies. We are now working on the commercialization of the Mohave FCEV.
The Mohave FCEV successfully completed the U.S. Hydrogen Road Tour 2009—a 2,655 km rally from San Diego (USA) to Vancouver (Canada), proving its durability and technological superiority. We have been offering the public a 6-month test drive program since 2009 and will be expanding the program in 2011, running a pilot fleet of 52 Mohave FCEVs.
Kia Motors has been working on securing proprietary design technologies and producing major fuel cell components domestically. As a result, we now produce 99% of the key parts in Korea. We have been working with some 120 partner companies on developing technologies to lower the possible startup temperature to -30 ˚C, raise the system efficiency by 60% and reduce the size of the fuel stack by half. In recognition of our efforts, we were awarded the Education, Science and Technology Minister’s Award at the 2nd National Green Tech Award, which honor businesses and research institutes that have contributed to the development of green technologies and fostered a public consensus on the importance of low-carbon, green growth. Kia Motors pledges to continue our R&D activities to pave the way for a tomorrow in which everyone can enjoy the benefits, convenience and safety of FCEVs.