New Sonata Hybrid Unveiled by Hyundai

Today in New York (at the Auto Show) Hyundai rolled out the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata. It is the first vehicle in the automotive industry to offer three new fuel-efficient powertrain technologies: Gasoline direct-injection (GDI), twin-scroll turbochargers, and full-hybrid powertrains.

“The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the new kid on the block, but it’s not a follower. Its full parallel hybrid configuration and breakthough lithium polymer batteries offer a new take on traditional hybrid design, while its unique design sets it apart from the mid-size hybrid pack,” says John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America.

The in house-developed Hybrid Blue Drive architecture is a full on parallel hybrid drive system. It can operate on an electric motor, gasoline internal combustion engine, and a combination of the two depending on driving conditions and driver demands. Hybrid Blue Drive differs from the “power split” technology used by most competitors, to allow significant efficiency returns at higher speeds. Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive is the first, and so far, only system using lithium polymer battery technology.

Hyundai says that using lithium polymer offers benefits such as robustness, power-density and package flexibility, that make it ideal for automotive applications. The 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.

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“Hyundai applies advanced technologies to vehicles to provide the best solutions for the everyday driver. Unlike traditional hybrids that trade off highway fuel economy for higher city ratings, the Sonata Hybrid delivers best-in-class highway fuel economy, while still delivering about a 40 percent improvement in city fuel economy compared to a Sonata equipped with the Theta II GDI engine. We think this is a better balanced approach for the majority of car buyers,” said Krafcik.

The Sonata Hybrid has a projected highway fuel economy of 39 mpg and a city fuel economy of 37 mpg. This seems to be the opposite of most car manufacturer’s hybrid strategy, which elevates city MPG over highway mileage. But according to Hyundai, government studies have shown that the typical U.S. driver operates in a highway mode 57 percent of the time. Hyundai also says that the 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.

The Sonata Hybrid delivers electric-vehicle operation at steady-state speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. After that, the gas engine kicks in, depending on the state of charge, acceleration and vehicle speed. The two propulsion units develop a total output of 209 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 195 lb-ft of torque. The new Sonata tips the scales at 3,457 pounds, which is pretty heavy for a car that size, but is still 263 pounds lighter than the Fusion Hybrid, by way of comparison.

Photos: Hyundai

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

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