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2008 LA Auto Show: Hyundai Blue Drive

Hyundai’s focus at the 2009 LA Auto Show was all about green…er blue technology. Environmentally friendly technology has been a primary focus of the LA Auto Show over the last couple of seasons, and this year is no different. As Hyundai continues to gain mainstream acceptance amongst the US public, the company is striving to prove that it is no longer just a maker of inexpensive-yet-reliable vehicles, but at the forefront of the automotive game.

Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive Chassis.jpg

To that end, Hyundai used the LA Auto Show to launch Blue Drive, an initiative to bring a whole range of environmentally friendly vehicles to the Hyundai lineup. At the heart of the initiative is their new hybrid technology that will be launched in the next generation Sonata. Ok, so everyone’s got a hybrid. So what if Hyundai’s got one coming? Hybrid Blue Drive, shown above, is similar in concept to other parallel hybrid systems (such as those in Toyotas and Fords), but it uses lithium polymer batteries. Compared to NiMH batteries that everyone else is using, lithium polymer batteries are 30% lighter, 50% smaller in volume, and have 10% better efficiency. The next generation Sonata is launching in 2010 for the 2011 model year and will be available from the outset with this hybrid powertrain.

HED-5 i-Mode 2.jpg

We’ve already seen the HEV-5 concept, above, having been shown previously at the Geneva Auto Show. Hyundai announced that a production version of this concept is coming to the US. Though timing wasn’t announced, we expect it for the 2012 model year. The car itself is a compact MPV aimed at young families. Today’s young buyers are greener (or is that bluer?) than generations past, and Hyundai is betting that future families will be receptive to smaller family vehicles. This compact 3-row vehicle will likely be offered with a version of the 2.0L direct injected turbo 4-cylinder, shown below, that powers the concept car. The use of direct injection and turbocharging results in 4-cylinder fuel economy with 6-cylinder power. This engine will proliferate throughout the Hyundai lineup.
2.0-liter Theta Turbocharged GDI Four-cylinder Engine.jpg

Hyundai also announced that they will launch “Blue” editions of Accent and Elantra next year, which are basically efficiency-optimized versions of the standard models at no extra cost to the customer. In fact, they will be the least expensive versions of each, similar in strategy to Chevrolet’s Cobalt XFE.

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