Kia to offer a stop-start Cee’d; BMW to get into battery power

21 September 2008

Kia Cee'dThe clever stop-start mechanism you’ll find under the bonnet of plush BMWs and posh modern Minis is about to find a new and more egalitarian home: in among the oily bits of a Kia Cee’d.

The Cee’d ISG (Idle Stop&Go) is to get the same Bosch-developed starter and engine management system required to stop the engine when the car is stationary and – more crucially – to get it going again smartly when the lights change.

In the Kia, the system will halt the car’s 1.4-litre engine when the car is in neutral with the clutch released. Depressing the clutch to engage first gear triggers the starter. Obviously the system only saves fuel when the car is stopped, so congested city streets are the place to be if you want to see the Cee’d ISG’s claimed 15 per cent improvement.

The ISG will, apparently, come to Britain in January.

Further down the line, we may yet see a hybrid Cee’d in the UK – the company has a Honda-Civic-style setup in development, by which we mean a small electric motor to supplement a relatively normal conventional engine, as opposed to the Toyota Prius setup which uses a much larger motor to give more electric oomph.

Meanwhile, BMW is pushing its own game onward. It has admitted it is working on an electric car, and this month a Mini without a tailpipe was spotted trundling around Munich’s roads. There have been persistent rumours that the company will breathe new life into its dead Isetta brand with a sub-Mini city car. And the latest edition of Car Magazine states that work has begun on a project dubbed “i car”, which will apparently yield a 1-Series sized vehicle with front-wheel drive, that will be “spacious and much lighter” – and less luxurious – than its blue-propeller brethren.

Car suggests that this car will wear a BMW badge, but we are not sure that the German firm’s brand champions will want to go there. We still suspect the company will dust off its Metro badge. We seem to be alone in that belief, but we continue to think it.

BMW will not be the only maker currently developing battery-powered vehicles - new Californian regulations require the major makers to sell a small proportion of zero-emissions vehicles from 2012.

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