Hyundai Motor Company confirmed plans to start retail sales of its first LPG-electric hybrid vehicle (earlier post) in July 2009. To be sold initially in the Korean domestic market under the Avante badge, the Elantra LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is the first production hybrid vehicle to be powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and to use Lithium Polymer batteries (supplied by LG Chem).
Powered by a Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) Gamma engine displacing 1.6 liters, a 15 kW electric motor and a continuously variable transmission, the Elantra LPI HEV is a mild-type hybrid that will deliver what Hyundai calls a “competitive fuel economy rating.”
The LPI engine uses direct injection. An electronic control unit (ECU) receives signals from various sensors, determines the engine state, and controls the fuel pump, injector, and ignition coil to ensure an optimal air-fuel ratio, improved engine performance and lower emissions.
The Elantra LPI HEV emits 103 g/km of CO2 and 90% fewer emissions than an equivalent standard gasoline-powered Elantra to qualify as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV).
The Elantra LPI HEV promises to be as much as 40% cheaper to operate than other competitor models in the marketplace and 50%less than a conventional Elantra model powered by a gasoline-only engine. Calculations are based on Korean domestic retail price of 1,907.08 KRW per liter of gasoline (US$7.03/gallon US) and LPG price of 1,828.65 KRW (US$1.78) per kilogram as of the first week of June.
LPG has about 73% of the energy content of gasoline: 84,950 Btu/gal vs. 116,090 Btu/gal, LHV, according to the US Department of Energy.
The Elantra LPI HEV will have a premium cost compared to a conventional Elantra, but buyers can expect to recover the extra cost of the vehicle in about two years, according to Hyundai.
Current plants call for expanding the hybrid vehicle line-up to include mid-sized sedans in 2010. Hyundai will release more detailed technical specifications closer to the July 2009 launch date.