Blue Hybrid Concepts Reveal Hyundai’s Direction

The 2010 Paris Motor Show has offered a number of interesting first time reveals, vehicles just now hitting the market and others planned for release over the next 3-4 years. Major auto shows are always good indicators where the market is headed and which vehicles we’ll be driving a few years out.

Korea’s Hyundai Motors is on a tear, rising from the eleventh largest automaker in the world in 2000 to the fourth largest manufacturer in 2010. The company has improved its image and has expanded its product lines, building cars which offer more content and are priced slightly less than what its competitors are offering.

Paris Motor Show

In Paris, the two vehicles creating much of the buzz for Hyundai are a pair of concepts. Concept vehicles are just that — ideas — with no firm plans to build them. Yet, Hyundai has indicated previously that several models they’ll be showing at auto shows this year and next will provide an excellent indication where the automaker is headed.

The two concepts offered at the Paris Motor Show are the ix20 Blue and ix35 hybrid models which are expected to become part of the company’s existing leading edge Blue DriveTM program. These vehicles are part of Hyundai’s effort to advance environmentally conscious technologies and assume fuel efficiency leadership worldwide.

Gas and Diesel

Some of Hyundai’s new models will utilize Hyundai’s all-new 1.0-liter Kappa gas and 1.7-liter U2 diesel engines. Likely not in the U.S., in Europe, Asia and wherever else small gas engines and diesels are likely to be embraced. However, that may soon change as far as the United States and Canada are concerned.

Each engine features several environmental enhancements including the use of high-performance, low-friction engine oil to improve combustion efficiency, optimize the gear ratio and increase engine efficiency.

Stop and Go

Also revealed at the Paris Motor Show is Hyundai’s new Idle Stop & Go (ISG) system. This particular engineering innovation turns off the engine when the car is at a standstill and the gearbox disengaged, such as at a traffic light. When power is needed, the engine instantly restarts the moment the clutch pedal is depressed. Hyundai claims that this technology is especially effective at reducing emissions and fuel usage in city traffic.

Along with ISG, Hyundai is including an alternator management system to maximize energy regeneration while braking in a bid to provide good acceleration performance by decreasing the alternator workload.

Other Changes

Hyundai is also making good use of underbody panels on at least one model, the i30 Blue, in an effort to cover the drag-inducing areas found on vehicles which adversely impact fuel economy. Some Hyundai models offer reductions on brake pad drag on the discs in addition to wheels fitted with low rolling resistance tires, which are inflated to a higher pressure.

Yes, Hyundai is continuing its relentless push upward. Though they are far from having the sales numbers enjoyed by the current Big 3 — Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen — the company has its eyes set on being number one, a possibility that was unthinkable just a few years ago.