Friday, April 23, 2010

Hyundai and Ford Will Offer Micro-Hybrids

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata, due in December, is the company's first hybrid�but far from the last. Hyundai will add the mildest form of hybrid technology, stop-start, to a range of its models.

The technology is called stop-start, idle-stop or micro-hybrid. Bottom line: It's a cost-effective way to get a 10 percent efficiency improvement.

In recent years, Europe has been embracing stop-start systems�also known as �Smicro-hybrids⬝�but the US has been slow to adopt the technology. Until now. Automotive News reported this week that Hyundai and Ford will begin offering stop-start systems on several of their models.

"Start-stop will be a key part of our development activity in the next two product cycles," Timothy White, Hyundai-Kia's senior powertrain manager, said last week at the SAE World Congress. That could mean stop-start technology on a wide range of North American Hyundai and Kia models in about two years.

Ford promises to offer micro-hybrid technology on about 20 percent of its global nameplates by 2014. And Automotive News reported last year that Mazda is planning to bring its i-stop system to US cars.

What�"s In a Name?

The auto industry has not settled on how to name or market the fuel-saving technology, which improves fuel economy by about 5 � 10 percent. Some will passionately argue that it�"s not really a hybrid of any kind�but if you grant that the technology generates and re-uses energy for greater efficiency, then it belongs in the family hybrid technologies, which ranges from micro-hybrid to plug-in series hybrid (also known as extended range electric vehicle).

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