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Hyundai Unveils Hybrid Technology in Paris

The auto maker showcases its proprietary parallel hybrid technology in a Santa Fe CUV, but Elantra, Sonata models will be first to market.

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Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. shows off its new parallel hybrid-electric vehicle technology in a Santa Fe cross/utility vehicle at the Paris auto show today.

Hyundai, late to the hybrid segment compared with Japanese and U.S. auto makers, is due to launch an Elantra HEV in South Korea next July, fueled by liquefied-petroleum gas. A gasoline-powered hybrid version of the Sonata midsize sedan will reach U.S. shores possibly by 2010, with a rolling chassis set for unveiling at November’s Los Angeles auto show.

In the Santa Fe unveiled in Paris, Hyundai’s 2.4L 4-cyl. Theta engine is linked to a 30-kw (40-hp) electric motor/generator, the latter directly coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Larger ratios for the fourth, fifth and sixth gears “ensure lower engine rpms and further enhance fuel economy,” the auto maker says.

Electricity is stored in a 270-volt lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, which Hyundai claims holds more energy and costs less to manufacture than lithium-ion batteries. Other advantages of lithium-polymer batteries include greater resistance to physical damage and less capacity degradation related to continuous charging and discharging cycles, Hyundai says.

Combined-cycle fuel economy of the hybrid Santa Fe is 38 mpg (6.2 L/100 km), and 0-62 mph (100 km/h) acceleration time is listed as 10.6 seconds.

To increase fuel economy, Hyundai engineers optimized all major driveline and cooling system components of the Theta to reduce friction. Low-friction oil is employed, as is Hyundai’s Integrated Starter Generator system, which restarts the engine automatically as the accelerator is compressed.

The auto maker also tweaked engine control software, revising injection pressure, engine-cycle timing and exhaust-retreatment rates, to lessen fuel intake.

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