There are a few reasons car buyers seek alternative-energy vehicles. Some want to do the most good for the environment, regardless of how that mission impacts their lifestyle. Others are looking to spend less money at the pump. Finally, there are those enjoy the instant torque of an electrically assisted powertrain.
Automakers have developed vehicles to accommodate each of these buyer groups. Pure electric vehicles, though still range-limited by battery technology, are a perfect fit for environmental do-gooders and electric performance enthusiasts. Traditional gas-electric hybrids, while no longer innovative, are affordable and offer plenty of fuel savings.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), a trend of the last few years, merge the benefits of both categories. A short, all-electric range is perfect for those with a brief commute—especially if owners can recharge their cars at work. On longer outings, the gas-electric combo works to sip as little fuel as possible. Kia is among a number of automakers that have applied resources to each of these alternative energy systems. Looking ahead, the Korean automaker is even exploring hydrogen fuel-cell technology.