Hyundai's latest response to automotive giants Toyota and Honda is in the hybrid powertrain field, with the release of its Santa Fe hybrid SUV concept at the 2008 Paris motor show. While nearly every other major manufacturer has released some form of hybrid technology in a production vehicle, Hyundai must make up for lost time sooner rather than later.

The brand-new Hyundai Santa Fe Blue Hybrid utilizes Hyundai's proprietary parallel hybrid drive system. A 2.4L Theta four-cylinder engine is linked with an electric motor making 41 hp and an instantaneous 150 lb-ft of torque, all sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. This hybrid drive system is expected to be the foundation for all future Hyundai hybrids.

The Theta engine's major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction and heat. Low-friction oil is the crankcase's factory fill, while the Santa Fe Blue Hybrid also uses an engine stop-start system, electrically powered steering, and low-resistance tires. With these innovations, the hybrid drive system cuts CO2 emissions to 148 g/km and provides a fuel economy rating of 38 mpg.

Electrical power is stored in a 270-volt lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, which Hyundai has noted to be much better than a lithium-ion alternative. Advantages include higher energy density, lower manufacturing costs, high resistance to physical damage, and the ability to take more charge-discharge cycles before storage capacity degradation takes place.

Source: Motor Authority