Hyundai: Blue is the new Green

At the LA Auto Show, they had been expecting a prototype of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. What the Korean constructor actually turned up with was a drivetrain for the new Sonata 2010.

'Blue Drive' is the name they have given to this hybrid system, plus they have signed up to the catchy slogan: "Blue is the new Green." What lies behind this is the target fuel consumption figure of 47mpg (6L/100km) in urban cycle that is being hawked by governments around the world. Hyundai is one of three manufacturers (the others being Honda and Toyota) who are aiming to establish a clear worldwide lead in the push for fuel economy.

The Blue Drive hybrid system functions with a 30KW battery and an automatic six-gear transmission. The three lowest gears have a more favourable ratio than conventional transmissions, so that the motor runs quite smoothly even at low speeds. The new electric motor compensates for the reduced mechanical components.

Hyundai have also announced the start of production for the HED-5 i-Mode. This concept made its debut at the 2008 Geneva Autosalon. The Los Angeles show gives the Americans their first chance to size up this vehicle. The HED-5 is a six-seater CUV (crossover utility vehicle) that has taken on certain elements from the i-Blue fuel cell concept. The new model is expected to appear in dealers' showrooms in about two years' time.

There will also be a Theta Turbo GDI version. Hyundai's Turbo GDI technology is also set to be incorporated into most of their other models.