Hybrids are not exactly the most engaging type of cars to drive. Geared towards making the most out of every drop of fuel, they're more suited for smooth and sedated rather than spirited driving. Efficient they may be, these fuel sippers have been branded to be boring and dull when it comes to overall driving experience.
Kia, however, wants to change all that with a new piece of technology. Called Active Shift Control (ASC), the automaker claims that not only will it make hybrids more efficient and shift faster, but it will also make driving hybrids more fun as well as make them accelerate quicker.
Developed in-house by Kia, ASC works by constantly monitoring a hybrid's gear shifts 500 times per second. This allows the system to precisely adjust the transmission's rotation speed to allow for faster gear changes. Working alongside a hybrid control unit (HCU), which also controls the electric motor, ASC will align the rotational speed of the engine and transmission to be in sync in order to reduce gear shift times by as much as 30%. The result will be a smoother, faster gear change.
“The development of world’s first ASC technology is a remarkable innovation which incorporates precise motor control to the automatic transmission. It will not only save fuel but also provide a more fun driving experience for our customers,” said KyoungJoon Chang, vice president and Head of Powertrain Control System Group of Hyundai Motor Group.
Thanks to the synchronization of the transmission and engine, shift time has been reduced from 500 miliseconds to 350 miliseconds. According to Kia, this translates to faster acceleration, better fuel economy and better transmission durability due to less friction during gear shift.
If you think that Kia will only reserve this type of technology for high-end hybrids, then you're wrong. The automaker plans to mass produce ASC and will soon benefit all of their hybrid models, including the ones under Hyundai. With that, expect the hybrid versions of the Niro, Optima, and even the Hyundai Sonata to be more efficient and fun-to-drive in the future. Perhaps this will rectify the 'boring' conotation that has since plagued hybrids.