Hyundai and Kia Motors turn up EV efficiency with new heat pump technology
Hyundai and Kia Motors have revealed new details of their innovative heat pump system, deployed in their electric vehicles line-up to maximise their all-electric driving range in low temperatures.
The technology helps to maximise the distance that Hyundai and Kia EVs can travel on a single charge, scavenging waste heat to warm the cabin. It enables EV drivers to heat their car’s cabin in cold weather without significantly impacting electric driving range.
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The technology was first introduced in 2014 on the first-generation Kia Soul EV. Comprising a compressor, evaporator and condenser, the heat pump captured waste heat generated by the vehicle’s electrical components and recycling this energy to heat the cabin.
The heat pump system has now been developed further for new EVs from Hyundai and Kia. The new system scavenges waste heat from an increased number of sources for optimum cold-weather EV range. The system uses the heat generated by these components to vaporise refrigerant from liquid to gas form. High-pressure gas is discharged from the compressor and forced into a condenser to be converted back into a liquid. This process generates additional heat energy that is recovered by the heat pump and used to warm the cabin.
The system has been gradually refined through extreme cold weather testing in Northern Sweden, where temperatures can get as low as -35°C (-31°F) in the winter. By testing in extreme cold temperatures, research engineers have identified additional ways to recycle as much waste heat as possible to increase the efficiency of the heat pump system. Testing the technology in these conditions ensures the heat pump is capable of operating in even the coldest environments.
Equipped with the latest heat pump technology, the Kona Electric proved this in a recent test in Norway. It clocked 405 kms in a test to monitor the performance deviation of electric vehicles in cold conditions compared to quoted manufacturer figures.
This innovation has helped the latest EVs from Hyundai and Kia offer around twice as much driving range and battery capacity compared to the their first-generation EVs. For example, the first-generation Soul EV offered an electric driving range of around 180km from a single charge of its 30kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The second-generation Soul EV, with a 64kWh battery occupying a similar amount of space, is capable of traveling up to 386km on a single charge.
A study carried out by Korea’s Ministry of the Environment on the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV found that the heat pump significantly reduced battery consumption in cold conditions.
Under its ‘Strategy 2025’ plan, Hyundai Motor aims to sell 670,000 battery EVs and fuel cell electric vehicles annually and become a top-three EV manufacturer by 2025. Kia’s mid- to long-term strategy, dubbed ‘Plan S’, will see the brand’s line-up grow to 11 EVs over the same timeframe.