The Santa Fe blue Hybrid maintains the overall design and dynamics of the standard Santa Fe, but is altogether a different car under the hood. Hyundai engineers developed a proprietary parallel hybrid drive system which mates the powerful but thrifty 2.4-litre Theta engine to a six-speed automatic transmission and a 41PS electric motor for maximum fuel economy and substantially reduced CO2 emissions. This proprietary parallel hybrid drive architecture will serve as the foundation for all future hybrid drive vehicles to be developed by Hyundai.
Advanced hybrid technology
Developed at the Namyang R&D Centre in Korea, the petrol-electric hybrid technology featured in the Santa Fe blue Hybrid reduces CO2 emissions to just 148 g/km (combined cycle) and delivers a fuel consumption figure of 6.2l/100km (combined cycle). With an estimated top speed of 170 km/h, performance has barely been compromised.
To maximize fuel economy, all of the Theta’s major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction, while the crankcase has been filled with low friction oil. Engine control 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’s engine control software governing injection pressure, engine cycle timing and exhaust retreatment rates has been revised to further reduce fuel consumption.
In addition, the latest electric motor-assisted steering system reduces power drain, and very low resistance tyres further optimize fuel economy.
Electric propulsion for the Santa Fe blue Petrol-Electric Hybrid is provided by a 41PS electric motor (205Nm), which is coupled directly to the six-speed automatic transmission. The top three gear ratios have been extended to ensure lower engine revolutions per minute (RPM) and further enhance fuel economy. Electrical power is stored in a 270V Lithium Polymer rechargeable battery (5.3Ah/270V) which has significant advantages over Lithium-Ion batteries, including higher energy density and lower manufacturing costs. Li-Poly is also more resistant to physical damage and can also take more charge-discharge cycles before storage capacity begins to degrade.
A proven track record in low-emissions vehicles
Hyundai developed its very first hybrid electric vehicle in 1995 when it unveiled the Future Green Vehicle at the Seoul Motor Show. In 1999 it displayed an Elantra Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) at the Seoul Motor Show and, in 2000, an Accent HEV – both of which featured ‘hard-type’ parallel electric drive systems and ISG technology. However, these research development vehicles did not go into mass production.
In 2004, the company moved its HEV program into low-volume test production, delivering 50 examples of a gas-electric hybrid Getz (B-segment vehicles badged as Hyundai Click in the Korean domestic market) to Korean government agencies as part of a fleet demonstration project. These were ‘mild-type’ hybrid systems using 16PS motors and nickel metal hydride batteries. The hybrid technology development program continued to expand and, in 2005, Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. delivered 350 more units to the demonstration fleet, 730 more units in 2006 and 1,682 more units in 2007, including Accent HEVs.
Hyundai plans to start retail sales of its first hybrid-electric vehicle in July 2009. To be sold initially in the Korean domestic market under the Avante badge, the Elantra LPI Hybrid will be the world’s first electric hybrid vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and the first to adopt advanced Li-Poly batteries.
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