Hyundai working on a ten-speed automatic transmission

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 22, 2012

Replacing the batteries in hybrid vehicles isn’t a serious issue but for those who are still worried, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik wants you to know that the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s lithium-polymer pack comes with a lifetime warranty. Krafcik said that the program is easy to afford since the failure rate is so low.

Hyundai asserts that it has to test the Sonata hybrid’s drivetrain for over 300,000 miles with “minimal degradation of its output or duration of operation.” Hyundai has yet to confirm the extent covered of the signal chain.

It’s uncertain if just the battery cells are covered or if the highly integrated hardware and control units are also covered. And instead of just eight-speed automatics in its transmission portfolio, Hyundai said that a ten-speed autobox is being developed in-house. This leads to the question on what point the complexity and packaging of gears would be redundant as compared to a CVT.

It’s possible that we won’t ever know the answer to this due to the massive ratio-envy in the industry. Hyundai representatives would only confirm that the ten-speed is a ‘go project’ for development but they declined to say when they would be introduced and on what vehicles they’ll be installed in. In addition, they’re not saying if the transmission would be for transverse or longitudinal applications.

Many believe that the transverse type is more likely because of the need for its small cars such as the Elantra and Accent to meet EPA figures.

When it comes to design principles, Hyundai has been known for its emotional Fluidic Sculpture concept which makes use of how rigid surfaces interact with the wind to make the vehicle appear as if it is always moving. The new Elantra is the best example of this as it is also shows the evolution of the Sonata’s design qualities. Inside the Elantra is the Nu 4-cylinder 1.8-liter engine capable of delivering output of 148 horsepower and torque of 131 lb.-ft.

However it needs to be said that the Elantra PZEV has an output of 145 horsepower with maximum torque at 130 lb.-ft. The Nu engine was created in order to replace the ones that powered the previous generation of the Elantra which was the Beta 2.0-liter engine. Unlike the Beta engine, the Nu engine is lighter by 74 pounds, smaller, and improves fuel economy for highway driving by 18%.

In terms of design, the new Elantra continues to have the hexagonal front grille the brand is known for. There are also the swept-back headlights, allowing the Elantra to have a compact and athletic look. By having athletic proportions plus the offer of alloy wheels in 15-inch, 16-inch, or 17-inch variants, these are able to complement the assertive stance of the Elantra.

Rounding off the unique design are the side repeater mirrors and the fog lights. When it comes to sedans that have experienced success in the U.S. market, all of them come with a unique silhouette with Day Light Opening, which is just a fancy term for side glass. The same can be said for the new Elantra as it not only has the flowing lines reminiscent of the Sonata on its sides, but it also has an undercut feature line which begins at the front door added to it.

The use of these lines plus the combination of the smooth roofline and the muscular wheel arches, gives the new Elantra a spacious and remarkable package. In addition, the use of flowing lines also means that the body has aerodynamic qualities. In fact, the drag coefficient of the Elantra is at 0.28, slightly better than the Chevrolet Volt which is at 0.29.

Designed at the brand’s North American Design Center located in Irvine, California, the use of innovative clean engine technology ensures that the Elantra is certified by the EPA as a Partial Zero Emission Vehicles or PZEV.

This is true not only for units sold in California but in Oregon and even in some Northeast states. When sold outside of the so-called green states, the Elantra is classified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle or ULEV. Thus the Elantra PZEV is not only as clean as the other hybrid electric vehicles available in the market, but it allows the brand to meet its promise when it comes to the environment.

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