HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY, Korea's largest carmaker and now a serious force on global markets, has launched the Elantra LPI hybrid in South Korea.
Hyundai's new hybrid is the world's first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by a Liquefied Petroleum Injected engine, first unveilled at the 2009 Seoul Motor Show in April.
The Hyundai Elantra LPI hybrid has been developed for a left-hand-drive configuration, although Ben Hershmann, Senior Manager for Product Communications and Public Relations at Hyundai Australia, told TMR that an eventual Australian release is not out of the question.
"The LPI hybrid system featured in the Korean-market Elantra LPI model is configured for a left-hand-drive format only at this stage," Hershmann said.
"However, as with any new models or technology, such as the i10 blue and i30 blue, Hyundai Australia will conduct a feasibility study to investigate its value to Hyundai's Australian lineup."
An 84kW 1.6 litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder 'Gamma' engine resides under the bonnet, and is mated to a 15kW flywheel-mounted electric motor. A CVT gearbox takes power to the front wheels, and the whole package - while not planet-saving - is a great deal more efficient than the regular Elantra.
The Elantra LPI Hybrid consumes just 5.8 litres of LPG per 100km, a 41.4 percent improvement over a regular 1.6 litre auto-equipped Elantra.
Even better, the Elantra hybrid emits just 102gm/km of CO2 and pumps out 90 percent fewer emissions than a petrol-powered model.
The Elantra LPI benefits from an 'Auto-Stop' function, designed to automatically switch the engine off when the car is idle, and comes into play only if the car has been running for more than two seconds at speeds of 9km/h or higher.
An indicator light in the Elantra LPI's Supervision cluster gauge, shaped like a tree and called 'Eco Guide', has been designed to coach the driver into developing more economical driving habits. If the driver is operating the vehicle in an eco-friendly fashion, the light is illuminated. If the driver is doing especially well, the tree will sprout small green leaves.
While the 0-100km/h run may be of no particular interest to hybrid owners, the Elantra LPI covers the sprint in 11.7 seconds - 2 seconds quicker than the Honda Civic Hybrid.
Available in three trim levels, Elantra LPI HEV will be priced at 20.5 million won (AU$20,395) for the entry level HDe-I model and will top out at 23.2 million won (AU$23,079) for the HDE-III model. Prices include South Korean government consumption tax exemption which has a maximum benefit of 3.1 million won (AU$3,084).
Hyundai is targeting sales of 7,500 units in the Korean market this year, increasing that number to 15,000 units in 2010. There are no immediate plans for exports of the Elantra LPI Hybrid but the company is investigating opportunities for the Elantra LPI and its hybrid technology in overseas markets.