At the New York auto show today, Hyundai unveiled its 2011 Sonata Hybrid, changing the game in hybrids with unique approaches in hybrid powertrain design, battery technology and vehicle appearance.
The Sonata Hybrid is Hyundai's first hybrid in the U.S. market.
The Hyundai-developed Hybrid Blue Drive architecture is a full parallel hybrid drive system, which can operate on an electric motor, gasoline internal combustion engine, and a combination of the two depending on driving conditions and driver demands. Hyundai's proprietary full parallel architecture differs from the power split technology used by most competitors, allowing significant efficiency advantages at higher speeds.
Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive is the first and only system using lithium polymer battery technology – leapfrogging competitive in-market nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion applications. Lithium polymer offers the benefits of lithium-ion, a technology used in laptops and cell phones, but adds robustness, power-density and package flexibility, making it ideal for automotive applications. Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive also is unique in its use of the company's own highly efficient, compact new 6-speed transmission, modified with hybrid starter-generator, electric motor, and low-friction oil pump, which together allow the elimination of the traditional torque converter.
Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive is a new addition to a full suite of eco-focused products and technologies that Hyundai offers in its goal to be the auto industry's global eco-leader. According to the EPA, Hyundai has led the U.S. industry in fuel economy for 2008 and 2009, and is currently the only automaker with average fleet fuel economy of more than 30 miles per gallon.
Sonata Hybrid's projected best-in-class highway fuel economy of 39 mpg offers significant benefit to hybrid owners with highway commutes, while also offering outstanding city fuel economy of 37 mpg. Government studies have shown that the typical U.S. driver operates in a highway mode 57 percent of the time. Hyundai's approach to deliver class-leading fuel economy in highway mode provides a unique solution in the mid-size sedan hybrid market, and differentiates Sonata Hybrid from the likes of Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid. Sonata Hybrid delivers typical hybrid fuel economy gains in the city like its competitors, but also gives owners outstanding fuel economy on the highway, where these competitors fall short.
Sonata Hybrid delivers class-leading electric-vehicle operation at steady-state speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. Gasoline engine engagement depends on state of charge, acceleration and vehicle speed. Its two propulsion units develop a total output of 209 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, exceeding all mid-size competitors, and 195 lb-ft of torque. The weight-efficient architecture of the new Sonata platform, combined with the lightweight lithium polymer battery pack, make the Sonata Hybrid the lightest vehicle in the segment, at just 3,457 pounds, 263 pounds lighter than the Fusion Hybrid. Combined with Sonata's best-in-class horsepower rating, Sonata Hybrid has a significant advantage in power-to-weight ratio, a key enabler of both performance and efficiency.
Hyundai's proprietary parallel hybrid drive system is the heart of the Sonata Hybrid. The competition uses a power split system with a planetary-geared Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This is where the Sonata Hybrid gains a key advantage. Competing hybrid models use electric motors that have to power a planetary gear set. By utilizing a full parallel drive system, Sonata Hybrid uses the power from the electric motor more efficiently to directly control the vehicle, allowing it to be operated at much higher speeds than the competition in EV-only mode. This technology is also a key enabler of Sonata Hybrid's best-in-class highway fuel economy.
Check out the rest of our New York Auto Show coverage.
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