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First Look: Kia Optima Hybrid

Korea’s smaller maker enters the battery world.

by on Nov.18, 2010

Kia's first hybrid goes with higher-power, lighter-weight lithium batteries.

Kia is making its belated entry into electric propulsion with the launch of its first gas-electric model, the 2011 Optima Hybrid, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The new model, similar in underlying technology to the new Sonata hybrid sold by Korean sibling Hyundai, is expected to push the fuel efficiency of the midsize sedan to more than 40 mpg.

Tom Loveless, Kia vice president of sales, said while the hybrid market is small, “it’s a growing segment. The interest in alternative powertrains is continuing to grow,” he said.

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Kia’s first-ever hybrid in the U.S. will attract those looking for a striking and well-equipped sedan that does not sacrifice style, comfort, performance or value for fuel efficiency, Loveless said.