Hyundai taps technology to boost mileage

'Automotive News' reports on Hyundai's new fuel-saving powertrain tech.

Photo by Automotive News

LOS ANGELES--Hyundai wants to be the fuel economy leader in the United States and is taking steps to reach that goal by 2015.

The brand will achieve a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2015, said John Krafcik, who was product development chief for Hyundai Motor America before being named interim CEO last week.

Hyundai says Honda Division is the fleet average leader in the United States at 22.9 mpg, followed by Toyota at 22.8. Hyundai says its current fleet average is 22.7 mpg.

Speaking at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, Krafcik said Hyundai will reach 35 mpg using a variety of new technologies. They include Hyundai's first fuel cell and hybrid vehicles, smaller-displacement engines, turbochargers and gasoline direct injection.

"It will be a hard task," Krafcik said, "but we think it's the right thing to do. Fuel-efficiency leadership is a great way to elevate the brand."

Hyundai's fuel economy push has a name: "Blue Drive." The offensive begins next year with the introduction of the Genesis coupe, which will be equipped with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

"This will be a rear-drive sports car that will get about 30 mpg on the highway," Krafcik said.

In 2009, Hyundai also will introduce Blue Drive trim lines of the Accent and Elantra. Those entry-level cars will get better mileage by using different gear ratios and tire construction and with bare-bones equipment. For example, power windows or locks will be missing.

"The idea is to take cost and weight out," Krafcik said.

A hybrid, Hyundai's first, is planned for the next-generation Sonata, due in 2010. The brand's first fuel cell vehicle will arrive in 2012.

But Krafcik said gasoline direct injection is a big part of how the company will reach its goals.

Hyundai will introduce a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with gasoline direct injection. Krafcik did not say when the engine would debut but said it may be on a crossover concept unveiled in Los Angeles. That vehicle could go on sale as a 2011 model.

(Source: Automotive News)

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