Kia Motors is celebrating the world premiere of its new fuel efficient, ethanol-gasoline powered Soul Flex today, at the 26th Salao Internacional do Automovel, in São Paulo, Brazil.
Kia’s Soul Flex is the first Korean FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicle) which can run on an ethanol-gasoline mixture, 100% ethanol or 100% gasoline. It is especially designed for the Brazilian market, where ‘flex’ models account for more than 85% of the new car sales.
Currently, Brazil is ranked No2 in the world, in terms of ethanol production, and consequently its motorists enjoy the low cost of ethanol, which is priced at 40% less than gasoline. As well as lower fuel costs, the industrial product tax (purchase tax) on new flex vehicles is only 11%, 2% lower than gasoline models.
The newly-introduced Soul Flex, with its unique exterior design features, boasts a 44% improvement in fuel efficiency compared with the existing gasoline model and superior power (94 kW) and torque (161 Nm) outputs, which are improved by 3.2% and 3.7% respectively from the original model.
Differences from the gasoline model include the newly adapted fuel injection & catalyst system as well as engine compression ratio – changes which combine to achieve enhanced fuel economy.
Changes made to accommodate the more abrasive nature of ethanol fuel include reinforcing the fuel pump, pillar cap and fuel line, and fitting a gasoline tank assistance system in order to aid engine ignition at low temperatures.
Kia Motors will begin exporting Soul Flex to Brazil this month, with the new models going on sale at Kia dealerships early next year. Kia is planning to introduce an all-new Sportage ‘Flex’ model at the end of next year, and Kia will further strengthen its presence in Brazilian market as new flex models are to be introduced in each market segment.
So far in 2010, Brazil has been one of Kia’s best performing markets, with sales increasing by 151% year-on-year, reaching 40,865 units up to the end of September.
To strengthen its current sales momentum, Kia plans to take advantage of its involvement with 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup from the early stages, as a major sponsor of the world’s biggest sporting event.
Maximizing the impact of this sponsorship and the introduction of new models, such as Flex models and new SUVs tailored to suit local consumer demands, Kia plans to expand its sales volume in Brazil as well as Central & South American market.