Typically pioneering innovations in motoring come from the big name luxury manufacturers; however Hyundai seems keen to make a name for itself as a leader in emerging technologies having today announced the world's first LPG hybrid production car.
The Elantra LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) will have the lowest operating costs of any hybrid vehicle on the market, with Hyundai determining the cost premium for the new car would be recouped in just two years through fuel savings.
Powered by a 1.6-litre Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) Gamma engine coupled with a 15kW electric motor, the Elantra LPI HEV is classed as a mild-type hybrid vehicle and qualifies as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle - emitting just 103g/km of CO2 and 90 percent fewer pollutants.
"The Elantra LPI HEV demonstrates Hyundai's innovative approach: We have leveraged Hyundai's world leadership in LPG-fuelled vehicles to develop a hybrid that will be very economical to operate," said Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, president of the Research and Development Division.
More precisely, the Elantra LPI HEV will be 40 percent cheaper to operate than other hybrid models in the marketplace and 50 percent less than a conventional Elantra model powered by a petrol only engine.
Part of the cost premium naturally includes the lithium polymer rechargeable batteries - another technological first for hybrid production cars.
The Li-poly batteries have significant advantages over lithium-ion batteries including higher energy density, lower manufacturing costs and they can also take more charge-discharge cycles before storage capacity begins to degrade.
Initial sales of the Elantra LPI HEV will begin July 2009 for the Korean market only; however Hyundai is investigating other markets - specifically China and Australia due to widespread LPG distribution infrastructure.