Determined to establish its credentials as a front-line player with respect to both conventional and hybrid powertrains, Hyundai presented a host of innovations at the Los Angeles Auto Show under its new "Blue Drive" banner. While econo-oriented "Blue" versions of the existing Accent and Elantra will join the lineup for 2009, and new lithium-polymer battery technology will significantly enhance the operating efficiencies of its all-new Sonata Hybrid that's due to arrive within the next 24 months, the most intriguing vehicle on display was the latest-incarnation of the automaker's HED-5 "i-Mode" concept crossover.
Originally shown earlier this year in Geneva with a green-diesel engine, the HED-5 made its U.S. debut powered by Hyundai's new 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected Theta four-cylinder engine. Fitted with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and capable of making up to 286 horsepower, the super low-emission Theta Turbo GDI will become a staple of the Hyundai vehicle lineup during the next few years. Better still, it will be the prime motivator for a production version of the futuristic HED-5 that's slated to go on sale here sometime in 2010. While several of the more extravagant interior design features aren't likely to make the final design cut, the flexible cabin architecture, extensive use of lightweight materials, and best of all, much of its exterior styling feel, are expected to turn up on the volume-build version.
As part of its new Blue Drive global product strategy, Hyundai also announced its plans to lead all automotive brands in the U.S. in fuel economy and achieve a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2015, five years ahead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) mandated deadline.