According to Hyundai, their first hybrid vehicle is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in October 2010. This hybrid, based on the Sonata platform and shown at auto shows as the part of the Blue Drive concept will have its own distinctive styling that sets it apart from a standard Sonata sedan. Further, Hyundai now states that it may no longer be called the Sonata.
According to Woong-chui Yang, president of Research and Development for Hyundai-Kia Motors said Hyundai, "May change the name if the exterior is quite different. People who drive a hybrid like to be differentiated."
The Blue Drive name applies to a line up of hybrid vehicles from Hyundai that employ specialty batteries made by LG Chem to provide electric power to the vehicles. Hyundai use lithium polymer batteries to power their hybrid vehicles. The lithium polymer batteries made by LG Chem are more durable and space efficient than current nickel metal hydride batteries and lithium ion batteries used by other automakers.
Since lithium polymer batteries offer increased density, they can be made in smaller sizes than current batteries and still have comparable driving ranges. Lithium polymer batteries are less costly to produce than current lithium ion batteries and offer several other benefits. Lithium polymer is more resistant to heat and temperature changes and their self discharge rate is 1/3 that of comparable nickel metal hydride batteries.
At the heart of any hybrid vehicle lies the batteries that power it. Making batteries that cost less to produce, that hold a charge for longer, and that weigh less is essential for the success of hybrid vehicles. Hyundai, along with battery supplier LG Chem have made great strides in the Blue Drive lineup of Hyundai vehicles.
Look for the new Sonata Hybrid powered by LG Chem's lithium polymer batteries, likely to be sold under a different name than Sonata, to hit showr0om floors in October of 2010.
Source: Autonews.com, Hyundai Press Release