There was no shortage of news surrounding reduced energy consumption during the press conferences at the 2010 New York International Auto Show. Even Infiniti’s new 8-passenger QX56 SUV gets 20 mpg on the highway. Among the many product introductions and company announcements, Ford, Hyundai and Chevy stood out with notable strides in vehicle efficiency and forward thinking technology partnerships.
“Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Mulally. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”
Hohm is a free web-based service Mircosoft currently offers to consumers. It was designed to reduce energy costs and increase conservation by providing homeowners with insight into energy-use patterns. When Ford breaks cover on their Focus EV next year, an adapted version of Hohm will allow customers to connect with local utility providers to optimize vehicle charging.
On the heels of Hyundai’s sixth generation Sonata mid-size sedan launch at last year’s L.A. Auto Show, the Korean automaker showed off new hybrid electric and turbocharged sport variants that add frugality, variety and performance to the Sonata family.
“The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the new kid on the block, but it’s not a follower,” says Krafcik. “Its full parallel hybrid configuration and breakthrough lithium polymer batteries offer a new take on traditional hybrid design, while its unique design sets it apart from the mid-size hybrid pack.”
As we have previously reported, Hyundai is breaking the mold by using lithium-polymer battery technology from LG Chem instead of the nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion applications used by competitors. Lithium polymer offers a whole bunch of advantages next to lithium-ion batteries — higher energy density, lower manufacturing costs, higher resistance to physical damage and significant advantages in thermal robustness and safety. Compared with nickel-metal hydride batteries, lithium polymer delivers the same power with 20 to 30 percent less weight, 40 percent less volume and 10 percent greater efficiency.
Sonata’s full parallel hybrid-drive system uses regenerative braking and can run on the 30-kilowatt (151 pound-foot) electric motor, 2.4-L Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine, and a combination of the two, depending on driving conditions and driver demands. The electric and gas motors develop a total output of 209 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, besting all mid-size competitors.
And let’s not forget about the Sonata 2.0T introduced alongside Sonata Hybrid that adds sportiness to the family without compromising fuel economy. In fact, Hyundai’s first four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine manages to out-power all competitive V-6 engines while still achieving best in class highway fuel economy of 34 mpg, and a respectable 22 mpg in the city. Similar to BMW’s twin scroll turbo engine, the Hyundai design minimizes turbo lag while maximizing combustion efficiency and power output. The best part is that all 274 ponies and 269 pound-feet of torque are available across a broad range of 1,800 rpm to 4,500 rpm, and the engine does not require premium fuel despite the use of turbo charging.
While other automakers were going out of business, Hyundai had a 2009 for the record books that included massive sales gains under their Assurance vehicle return program, North American Car of the Year honors for the Genesis luxury sedan and KBB owner-loyalty rankings that bested both Toyota and Honda. Considering the growing number of consumers who have become disillusioned with Toyota, it seems Hyundai is in prime position to lure them into the fold.
Following up on the production debut in Los Angeles last year, Chevy also rolled out sport (RS) and eco-minded (Eco) variants of their Cruze compact sedan slated to hit market this fall. Cruze is set to replace Cobalt in Chevy’s lineup, and will sit alongside other current and future fuel-sipping Chevy compacts like Aveo, Beat and Volt PHEV. Both RS and Eco variants will use Chevy’s new 1.4-liter VVT turbo engine, while the base model is fitted with naturally aspirated 1.8-L engine. In fact, Chevy says 70 percent of all Cruzes will be equipped with the turbo four.
“The Cruze Eco delivers hybrid-like efficiency without the price tag,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president Chevrolet marketing. “Along with the Volt electric vehicle, it demonstrates how Chevrolet is working to bring new products to market that range from gas-friendly to gas-free.”
Images: 1) Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft Chief executive Steve Ballmer at the New York International Auto Show./Stuart Schwartzapfel, Man on the Move. 2) Hyundai CEO John Krafcik introduces the Sonata Hybrid./Hyundai. 3) The Chevy Cruze Eco./Chevrolet.
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