Hyundai says its first US hybrid model, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, will have significant cost and performance advantages over rivals such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
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Due to go on sale in the US later this year (as an MY11 model), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid uses a system that is lighter than those found in its direct rivals, while also offering better acceleration.

"The lithium-polymer battery is 20 per cent lighter (than in the competing models)," explains Lee Ki Sang, a senior vice president of Seoul-based Hyundai and head of its hybrid program."Overall, we have much lower cost throughout the system."

Hyundai says the new Sonata Hybrid will achieve the best fuel economy figures under current US testing regulations, with a combined cycle figure of 6.1L/100km.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid features the Korean manufacturer's new Blue Drive system which combines an Atkinson cycle 2.4-litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine with a (30kW / 151Nm) electric motor for a total net output of 156kW / 264Nm. The front wheels are driven via a new, compact six-speed automatic transmission.

Blue Drive is a full parallel hybrid drive system, which can operate on an electric motor, petrol engine, and a combination of the pair depending on driving conditions and driver demands.

"The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the new kid on the block, but it’s not a follower," says John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America."Its full parallel hybrid configuration and breakthrough lithium polymer batteries offer a new take on traditional hybrid design, while its unique design sets it apart from the mid-size hybrid pack."

Using lithium-polymer batteries in lieu of nickel-metal hydride units, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's battery pack is capable of delivering the same amount of power while weighing up to 30 per cent less than conventional units. The pack also takes up 40 per cent less space and is 10 per cent more efficient.

The new Sonata Hybrid weighs in at 1568kg (tare) and boasts a drag co-efficient of just 0.25Cd. It can operate in pure electric mode at speeds of up of 100km/h. Similar to other hybrids, it also features regenerative braking, electric power steering and electric air conditioning.

Hyundai Australia's Senior Manager PR & Events, Ben Hershman, told CarAdvice this afternoon that although the Sonata Hybrid is currently being reviewed for other markets, it was announced prior to the New York International Motor Show that the car was specifically aimed at the US market.

Mr Hershman also said that although the Sonata Hybrid is not currently slated for sale here, Hyundai Australia will continue to assess the car's suitability for local sale.

US pricing of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will be announced closer to the car's Q4 launch.

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