Hyper-miler Wayne Gerdes and his colleague Chris Bernius, driving a factory-standard 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid (earlier post), aim to set a new record for lowest fuel consumption in a gasoline hybrid car while driving an 8,000-mile route through all 48 adjoining states of the US.
The drivers will depart from Kia Motors’ manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, on 26 August and travel through the 48 adjoining states in a clockwise direction before finishing in South Carolina just 16 days later, on 10 September.
The Optima Hybrid is Kia’s first hybrid vehicle in the US market and went on sale in East- and West-coast regions in June 2011, priced from US$26,500, with national availability by the end of 2011.
The 2.4-liter Optima Hybrid employs a novel parallel gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain developed by Kia that delivers a blend of performance—acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.2 seconds, a top speed of 195 km/h (121 mph), plus highly-competitive fuel economy equivalent to a 40.7% fuel consumption improvement over the standard Optima EX model in the USA.
A European version—which mates the electric motor to a smaller, 2.0-liter gasoline engine—is expected to go on sale in some markets in 2012.
Kia fans wishing to track the drivers’ progress will be able to receive live updates via Kia’s Twitter feed (@Kia_Motors) and a specially-developed Facebook app on Kia’s Worldwide page Photos, video footage and a written blog will be uploaded to the page on a daily basis from 26 August. The Facebook app will also enable visitors to explore the drivers’ route in detail, find out further information on the Kia Optima Hybrid and will also offer some best practice tips for motorists to achieve better fuel economy in their own vehicles.