Hyundai has just released details of a new 'mild hybrid' version of its Elantra hatchback. It uses an LPG-powered engine in conjunction with an advanced lithium polymer battery pack and an electric motor.
The hybrid Elantra will go on sale in South Korea next April, and senior Hyundai sources in the UK confirm the company is seriously considering exporting it to markets with “an established LPG delivery architecture” – and that includes Britain.
The hybrid Elantra uses a 1.6-litre engine that can only run on LPG – it doesn’t have a petrol tank – in conjunction with a 15kw battery pack. Drive goes to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission system.
The hybrid Elantra would likely be sold under the Hyundai's ‘i-Blue’ eco sub-brand in the UK. The car is the first in the world to use new-tech lithium polymer batteries manufactured by LG Chem. These offer significantly higher energy density and lower manufacturing costs than lithium-ion batteries, and are also claimed to be capable of withstanding more charge-recharge cycles, extending their lifespan.
Hyundai claims the Elantra LPI puts out just 103g/km of CO2: if it comes to the UK expect the car to be tweaked to get it under the magic 100g/km barrier – which would qualify it for free road tax.
If the hybrid Elantra does come to the UK, Hyundai should be able to price it to undercut both the Toyota Prius and Honda’s forthcoming hybrid hatchback by a substantial margin.