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Hyundai Introduces Hybrid Blue Drive Platform; First US Application to be in Sonata

Basic components of the Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive system. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai Motor America launched its Blue Drive initiative and platform technologies at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Blue Drive will eventually encompass a set products and technologies through which Hyundai is targeting a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2015, five years ahead of the new CAFE minimum.

Most immediately, an internally-developed parallel hybrid system is at the core of the Blue Drive strategy. To be first applied in the next-generation Sonata (to be Hyundai’s first gasoline-electric hybrid for the US market), Hybrid Blue Drive offers both an all-electric mode and a parallel drive mode. This parallel hybrid drive architecture will serve as the foundation for future hybrid drive vehicles to be developed by Hyundai, starting with the Sonata.

Hybrid Blue Drive is made up of nine major components:

  1. Optimized Theta II 2.4-liter engine;
  2. Integrated starter generator for stop-start;
  3. 30 kW electric motor delivering 205 Nm of torque;
  4. Regenerative braking system;
  5. 6-speed automatic transmission with an improved efficiency electric oil pump;
  6. 1.4 kWh lithium polymer battery pack (5.3 Ah, 270 V);
  7. Hybrid power control unit;
  8. Electric air conditioning compressor; and
  9. Weight-efficient architecture coupled with a low drag coefficient.

To maximize fuel economy, all of the Theta II major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction, while the crankcase has been filled with low-friction oil. Engine management software automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, cutting emissions to zero. When pressure is reapplied to the accelerator pedal, the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) automatically restarts the engine.

The Theta II’s engine management software governing injection pressure, engine cycle timing and exhaust treatment rates has been revised to further reduce fuel consumption. This control strategy assures that maximum efficiency is achieved during gentle acceleration and greater power is immediately available during full acceleration. During deceleration, braking regeneration comes into play.

In addition, the top three gear ratios in the transmission have been extended to ensure the engine runs at lower RPMs, the latest electric motor-assisted steering system reduces power drain and low resistance tires further optimize fuel economy.

Benefits of the lithium polymer technology. Click to enlarge.

Hyundai is emphasizing the benefits of LG Chem’s lithium polymer technology. LG Chem is currently using a manganese-spinel based cathode with amorphous carbon anode; its proprietary Safety Reinforcing Separator (SRS); and a polymer gel electrolyte of LiPF6 in organic salts all in a laminated package.

The SRS uses nanoscale ceramic particles to prevent internal short circuits. The separator offers excellent abuse tolerance due to its thermal and mechanical strength.

With the Mn-based cathode, LG Chem has achieved more than 15 years of calendar life and 150,000 miles of cycle life with excellent abuse tolerance. Hybrid Blue Drive is targeting maintenance-free battery operation over the vehicle’s life—at least 10 years, and 150,000 miles—in all weather conditions.

Compared with today’s NiMH batteries deployed in hybrids, the LG Chem lithium polymer batteries deliver the same power with 30% less weight, 50% less volume and 10% greater efficiency.

The lithium polymer batteries offer more than twice the energy density of NiMH cells, and 175% greater volumetric energy density, meaning Hyundai engineers can devote less space and weight to the battery pack.

Other aspects of Blue Drive

The Blue Drive initiative also incorporates non-hybrid technologies for fuel efficiency, including turbocharged gasoline direct injection engines, improved aerodynamics and weight reduction, and fuel cells.

The 2.0-liter Theta turbocharged GDI engine. Click to enlarge.

Turbocharged GDI. At the earlier Geneva International Motor Show, Hyundai introduced the HED-5 i-Mode concept car. At the Los Angeles show, Hyundai Motor America announced that a production version of this compact, four-cylinder crossover has been green-lighted for the US, with timing to be announced at a later date.

The HED-5 concept shown in Los Angeles used an advanced 2.0-liter Theta turbocharged gasoline direct injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine capable of developing as much as 286 hp (213 kW) while and delivering more than 30 highway mpg. This engine will appear in various Hyundai models in the future.

Four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline direction injection engines can be 15-20% more fuel efficient than V6 engines without compromising performance, Hyundai said.

Blue editions. Next year, Hyundai will introduce high mileage Blue editions of its Accent and Elantra models. Fuel-efficient modifications include low-rolling-resistance tires, enhanced aerodynamics, revised engine calibrations and reduced final drive ratios to deliver higher mileage and lower emissions than today’s models. These new high mileage editions will be identified with Blue badging.

Fuel cell vehicles. Hyundai said that the ultimate expression of Blue Drive is the hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. Hyundai is participating in fuel cell verification programs around the world.

In the US, Hyundai has been a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) since 2000. In 2004, Hyundai began a partnership with Chevron Corp. and UTC Power to initiate a 32-vehicle fleet testing program. This five-year cost-sharing program is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy.

Hyundai recently completed a 13-day, cross-country road trip that served as the first significant US test for its proprietary fuel cell technology. The Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) on display in the Hyundai booth completed a 4,300 mile journey as part of the Hydrogen Road Tour 2008.

Hyundai said that it is targeting putting a Hyundai Blue Drive Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle in series production as early as 2012.




Henry Gibson

It would have saved time and money to just install a Flybrid system or an Artemis system. ..HG..

Alex Kovnat

I am delighted to see this advanced technology offered to us folks who depend on our cars to get us where we need to go.

What worries me is, with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in the trouble, politicos may look to import limitations to save the Big Three. It will indeed be a frustration if access to cars like the Sonata with Hybrid Blue technology, is limited to gratify the emotional needs of intellectuals who cry doom and gloom over global warming, but who then cry in their coffee when U.S. autoworkers are laid off.


If this were the new Impalla, Taurus or Sebring, I would be happy to see the US support the Big 3. Because they have no vision, I would rather see the money going to an additional US Hyundai plant to build these.

There is nothing wrong with US innovation. Ten years ago UQM of Frederick, CO built a Hummer Hybrid that drove cross country averaging 46 mpg. The EV1 went 110 miles on a charge. Did US car companies support this technology? They ignored it or worse, they fought it. They should be allowed to fail.

US innovators like Aptera, Phoenix, Poulsen, and Tesla should become the new US auto industry. I would love to see my tax dollars go there.

A major solar manufacturer in West Germany made an offer to buy Opel yesterday. They want to transform the brand into the new green automobile of Europe. What would happen if GM failed? It would be broken up and sold to innovators and we would all be a lot better off.



Good points.

A garage sale could offload the GM + Ford + Chrysler plants to future e-vehicles and advanced batteries manufacturers. Other manufacturers like Honda - Toyota - Hyaundai - VW etc may be interested if the going price is low enough.


Hyundai should buy GM.


@Alex Kuvnat,

But do we need a whopping 213 kW to get us where we need to go?


Sorry, Kovnat

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