After releasing the first teaser on Friday, Hyundai revealed today the all-new 2011 Sonata Hybrid at the New York Auto Show. The new car carries the Hyundai-developed Hybrid Blue Drive architecture which is a full parallel hybrid drive system.
With this system the car can operate on an electric motors, gasoline internal combustion engine or , as you imagined, using a combination of those two.
The new system uses lithium polymer battery technology, leapfrogging competitive in-market nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion applications.
Under the hood we find a fuel-efficient 2.4-liter Theta II engine capable to deliver 169 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.
This engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 30kW (151 lb-ft) electric motor for maximum fuel economy. This means we have a total output of 209 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, exceeding all mid-size competitors, and 195 lb-ft of torque.
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 (for those who don't know, the recently unveiled 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid delivers an impressive 41 mpg.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, shares John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s President and CEO, makes use of a full parallel hybrid configuration plus innovative lithium polymer batteries. While these shows that the Sonata Hybrid offers a new approach to what has been considered as the traditional hybrid design, the design is distinct enough to separate it from those of the mid-size hybrid class, he adds.
This means that while the Sonata Hybrid is the newest model in the segment, it is in a niche all on its own, Krafcik reveals. The full parallel hybrid drive system is based mainly on the company’s Hybrid Blue Drive architecture.
This system allows the Sonata Hybrid to run on its gas-powered internal combustion engine, the electric motor, or a combination of these two, which will depend on what the driver needs and what the current conditions are.
While other brands utilize a power split technology, Hyundai’s system is different in a way that it offers more efficiency advantages especially when running at high speeds. In addition, this is also the first and the only system to use lithium polymer battery technology rather than the usual lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride technologies.
For those who are familiar with the technology, lithium-ion is used in cellular phones or laptops. Lithium polymer gives the same benefits except that it is tougher, more flexible, and has power-density, making it perfect for use in automobiles.
Other features that make the Hybrid Blue Drive unique include the compact new 6-speed transmission enhanced with the hybrid starter-generator, low-friction oil pump, and electric motor. This results in the Sonata Hybrid not needing the standard torque converter.
Hybrid Blue Drive is part of the company’s goal to become the world eco-leader in the industry as it adds to the products and technologies that are already environment-friendly. The EPA has in fact revealed that Hyundai was the leader in terms of fuel economy for the years 2008 and 2009.
Hyundai is also the lone car manufacturer to have an average fleet fuel economy that exceeds 30 miles per gallon. According to Krafcik, the company offers the best solution for the average driver as it makes use of advanced technologies. Many traditional hybrids will often exchange higher city ratings for highway fuel economy, he continues.
The Sonata Hybrid meanwhile not only provides what may be the best highway fuel economy for its class, but its city fuel economy is even 40% better compared to the Sonata that has the Theta II GDI engine. The company believes that this offers a more balanced approach especially for most of the customers, Krafcik concludes.