Blue Drive: Hyundai’s Push for Better Fuel Mileage

Hyundai Motors has announced that it will attempt to be the fuel economy leader in the United States by 2015. Currently, Honda is the fleet average leader in the U.S. at 22.9 mpg, followed by Toyota at 22.8. Hyundai claims its own fleet to be at 22.7.

John Krafcik, former product development chief for Hyundai, who is now interim CEO, announced that Hyundai will achieve a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2015. Krafcik said Hyundai will realise its goal by using a variety of new technologies, which include Hyundai’s first fuel cell and hybrid vehicles, smaller-displacement engines, turbochargers and gasoline direct injection.

Krafcik said, “It’s the right thing to do. Fuel-efficiency leadership is a great way to elevate the brand.” The push for fuel economy leadership is called “Blue Drive.” This begins with the Genesis coupe, a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

“This will be a rear-drive sports car that will get about 30 mpg on the highway,” said Krafcik.

In 2009, more cars in Blue Drive trim will be introduced, including fuel-efficient versions of the Accent and Elantra. These entry-level cars will be using different gear ratios and tyre construction, and bare-bones equipment—no power windows or locks. Hyundai will be minimizing both costs and weight on Blue Drive cars.

A next-generation Sonata with a hybrid engine, Hyundai’s first is due in 2010. Hyundai will also introduce a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with gasoline direct injection, possibly for release as a 2011 crossover concept model. Then a fuel cell vehicle is planned for 2012.

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