Hyundai-Kia unveils its innovative heat pump system to maximize vehicle range in low temperatures

Today, Hyundai Motor Corporation and Kia Motors announced their innovative heat pump system, which can maximize the pure electric range of vehicles in low temperature conditions.

The new heat pump system is reported to be deployed in Hyundai and Kia’s global electric vehicle (EV) lineup. Waste heat can be harvested from more sources to optimize electric vehicle range in cold weather. Such innovations mean that Hyundai and Kia EVs are able to maintain consistent range across different temperatures, while other EVs experience significantly less range at the same temperature. The Hyundai Kona Electric electric model is equipped with the latest heat pump technology and has been tested in Norway, the most advanced electric vehicle market in the world, and this is also proven.

The Norwegian Automotive Federation (NAF) recently compared 20 electric vehicles in cold and warm weather to identify the model with the most consistent range and best charging performance. The test monitors each car’s performance in cold weather conditions and compares the results with numbers provided by the manufacturer.

The Kona Electric took first place with a range of 405 km in the cold and 449 km under WLTP combined cycle test conditions (23°C/73°F). In contrast, in severe cold, the Kona EV has a range of 91% of the WLTP combined cycle range, a deviation of only 9% from the pure electric range figure it provides.

Hyundai and Kia’s heat pump technology first appeared on the first-generation Kia Soul electric model in 2014. Consisting of a compressor, evaporator and condenser, the heat pump absorbs the waste heat released by the car’s Electronic components and recovers this energy to efficiently heat the car cabin. Even in cold driving conditions, this technology protects the 180 km electric range of the Thor model from being reduced.

To further improve energy capture and efficiency, Hyundai and Kia are continuing to develop heat pump technology. Since its first launch in 2014, the system has been gradually refined through tests in extreme cold weather (-35°C) in northern Sweden. By testing in extremely cold weather conditions, research engineers have identified ways to recover as much waste heat as possible to improve the efficiency of this heat pump system. Testing the technology under these conditions ensures that the heat pump will work even in the coldest environments.

In addition, Hyundai and Kia also use battery thermal management features to greatly improve the performance of electric vehicle battery packs. It is understood that the Hyundai and Kia electric vehicle battery packs use a water-cooling system rather than a traditional air-cooling system, which can further extend the battery’s range without increasing the physical size. The innovation means that batteries in Hyundai and Kia EVs can be packed more tightly because the water cooling tunnels take up less space than the air cooling tunnels, ultimately increasing battery density by 35 percent.

The innovation also means Hyundai’s and Kia’s latest EVs have roughly twice the range and battery capacity of the first-generation EVs, and can travel farther on a single charge. For example, the first-generation Thor electric car provided owners with a 30kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that could travel 180 kilometers on a full charge. The second-generation Thor electric car is equipped with a 64kWh battery pack, which occupies the same space, but can travel 386 kilometers on a single charge.

A study by Korea’s Ministry of the Environment on Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro models found that in cold conditions, heat pumps significantly reduce battery power consumption. When the vehicle is driven at -7°C with the HVAC system activated at the same time, the vehicle can maintain 90% of the range compared to driving at 26°C, which is an advantage for other electric vehicles. A new benchmark has been set. By comparison, many electric models from other manufacturers saw an 18% to 34% drop in pure electric range under the same conditions.

It is reported that Hyundai Motor’s “Strategy 2025” plans to sell 670,000 pure electric models and FCEVs (fuel cell vehicles) annually by 2025, and become the top three electric vehicle manufacturers. And Kia’s medium and long-term strategy “Plan S” shows that the company plans to launch 11 electric models by 2025.

Hyundai and Kia will continue to improve the heat pump system and other thermal management innovations that are influencing the development of the brand’s next-generation electric vehicles.

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