Hyundai launches world’s first LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle

News media release 10th July 2009

Hyundai Motor Company launched its first Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), the Elantra LPI Hybrid, in the South Korean market at a press event attended by President Yang Woong-Chul, head of Hyundai’s Corporate Research & Development Division, and members of the Korean and international press.

“Listening to the voice of our customers, we’ve responded with the Elantra LPI Hybrid which offers fuel saving advantages and minimal harmful emissions. This car offers a strong message of reassurance to our customers and stakeholders that we are moving with "Hyundai speed" to achieve our goal of environmental leadership in our industry and redefining the Hyundai brand as a technological innovator," President Yang said at the launching ceremony today, which was held at a botanical garden outside of Seoul.

Elantra LPI Hybrid delivers a fuel economy rating of 5.6 litres / 100 km and CO2 emissions of just 99grams / km to qualify as a Super Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV).

Because it is approximately half the price of petrol in Korea, Liquid Petroleum Gas enjoys widespread popularity as a transportation fuel.

A conventional 1.6 litre Elantra equipped with an automatic transmission would be able to travel a distance of 15 km using one litre of petrol. If the same expenditure of 1,654 won (AUD$1.65^ per litre, today’s retail petrol price) were spent on LPI fuel, the Elantra LPI Hybrid would be able to travel 39 km.

The savings add up: Over the course of a year, Elantra LPI Hybrid would result in about 1.35 million won (approximately AUD$1,343^) in fuel savings compared to a conventional Elantra assuming an annual average driving distance of 20,000 km. This translates into the fastest payback period of any hybrid vehicle on the market today.

The fuel efficiency of Elantra LPI HEV is further improved with the engine ‘Auto-Stop’ function which automatically switches off the ignition at idle. This feature only functions when the driver applies the brakes after running the car for more than two seconds at speeds of 9 km/h or higher. Under certain pre-defined conditions, however, such as when the battery charge drops below 30 percent or when the accelerator is engaged, then the engine ‘Auto-Stop’ feature will be disengaged and the engine will continue running normally.

Powered by a 1.6 LPI ‘Gamma’ engine with maximum power rated at 84 kW and a 15 kW electric motor, the hybrid engine of Elantra LPI HEV puts out a maximum total 99 kW through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Acceleration from zero to 100km/h is clocked at 11.7 seconds, beating the Honda Civic Hybrid by about 2 seconds.

The vehicle’s SuperVision gauge cluster is equipped with an “Eco Guide” tree icon which is designed to coach the driver into developing more economical driving habits.

An indicator lights up if the driver is operating the vehicle in an eco-friendly way guiding the driver to avoid sudden acceleration and braking. If the driver is performing well, the tree icon will sprout small green leaves to reward good driving habits.

Elantra HEV’s CVT is equipped with a driver selectable ‘E (Eco-Drive)’ gear that maximises fuel efficiency by reducing sharp fluctuations in the torque, increasing the use of electric motor assist and electric charge regeneration when the brakes are applied.

Available in three trim levels, Elantra LPI HEV will be priced at 20.5 million won (AUD$20,395^) for the entry level HDe-I model and will top out at 23.2 million won (AUD$23,079^) for the HDE-III model. Prices include South Korean government consumption tax exemption which has a maximum benefit of 3.1 million won (AUD$3,084^).

Hyundai invested 250.8 billion won (AUD$250 million^) over a 43 month-long development period on the Elantra LPI HEV.

Hyundai is targeting sales of 7,500 units in the Korean market this year, increasing that number to 15,000 units in 2010. There are no immediate plans for exports of the Elantra LPI Hybrid but feasibility studies are currently underway in overseas markets where an excellent LPG refuelling infrastructure exists.

In addition to a five year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty, Hyundai will offer a six year / 120,000 km warranty for the Lithium-Ion Polymer (LiPoly) battery, inverter and other key electronic and electrical components.

^Source 8th July 2009. Note that all AUD dollar equivalent figures are only for reference.

+Note: A mild-type hybrid is not capable of using the electric motor to propel the vehicle by itself. The electric motor works together with the engine to mobilise the car. A hard-type hybrid, or full-hybrid, provides assistance to the engine, but can also run in pure electric mode.

*Note: Compared to the more prevalent Otto Cycle four-stroke combustion engine, the Atkinson Cycle has a power stroke which is longer than the compression stroke and is widely adopted by designers of Hybrid powertrains due to the increase in fuel economy it provides.

Internal combustion engines can be divided into several categories according to the combustion principles: Otto Cycle, Miller cycle, Lenoir cycle, Atkinson cycle, Brayton / Joule cycle, Diesel cycle and Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition.