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>> I get this one a lot. Hey, Coolie [assumed spelling], how come hybrids are usually a gas engine with an electric motor? Why not a diesel with an electric to combine two really efficient power sources? And my answer's always been concisely, "I dunno." But Hyundai has an answer for us, and here it is. This is called the i-flow concept. It is a 1.7-liter compact twin-turbo diesel coupled to an electric motor going through a six-speed dual clutch transmission. Lots of efficiency language in there. They say the bottom line would be something around 78 miles per gallon, and, again, not a plug-in here, not a range extender, a relatively real world powertrain. A couple of other tricks they're doing: Solar panel roof to generate some trickle [assumed spelling] power--that's fairly common in modern and concept cars right now--and also a thermo-electric recovery system in the exhaust, which can recover electricity by converting it from exhaust heat. So a little beyond my pay-grade, but it's starting to be talked about a lot by car makers lately, and they say that thermo-electric stuff can provide up to half the power needed to move the car when it's going like 45 miles per hour. Pretty impressive. Now to the interior. Check out the translucent steering wheel. That's show car stuff. They say the shapes of the inside are inspired by nature, and I'm going to give an award to the first car company that can resist saying that about their concept cars. I'm intrigued by the instrument panel, or what is really the gutter-to-gutter panel, which takes not just touch input, but also gestures in front of it, will cause things to call up and be input or entered. And this thing is so "out there" yet so kind of doable that it stole a lot of thunder from that. That's a Hyundai Tucson that is being shown with a fuel cell electric powertrain, which they promise to have on the market by 2012. Oh, these things here...these sliding rear doors...strictly concept stuff. They've been showing this on futuristic show cars since the 1960's. That ain't ever going to happen.
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