Hyundai Preparing to Expand the Hybrid Horizon
By KBB.com Editors on July 15, 2008 7:40 AMAlthough it's still about a year from going on sale in the Korean market, Hyundai's Elantra Liquified Petroleum Injected (LPI) Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) promises a cleaner, greener and more affordable take on the genre. This new Elantra variant will be the first HEV to match an internal combustion engine that burns liquified petroleum gas (LPG) with an electric motor powered by an advanced Lithium-Polymer (Li-Poly) battery pack. In addition to introducing this new hybrid format, Hyundai claims that its Elantra LPI will deliver the lowest operating costs of any current HEV, produce 90 percent fewer pollutants and far less CO2 than an equivalent gasoline-engine Elantra, and be priced at a level that should allow the initial premium to be fully amortized by fuel-cost savings in about two years of normal operation. While all of those calculations are based on figures for the Korean market, the broader implications are clear -- and would seem to bode well for its ultimate potential in other parts of world, as well.
Beyond its unique hybrid system elements, the Elantra LPI HEV's first commercial application of a lithium-polymer battery is of particular note. Sourced from LG Chem, this new Li-Poly battery has a superior power density index compared to the more common lithium-ion equivalent that Hyundai had originally anticipated using in the Elantra hybrid. Equally important, it's also considerably less expensive to manufacture, possesses greater overall durability and is reportedly capable of undergoing far more charge/discharge cycles before requiring replacement.