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And Why They're Wrong
With an almost never ending list of myths and rumors, few vehicles are as misunderstood as the hybrid.
Almost every review or video posted on AutoGuide.com about a hybrid car has at least one reader comment about how the battery will deteriorate beyond repair, or that once you get a hybrid, you’re not a true driving enthusiast.
With so much misinformation about hybrid vehicles being spread around, we’ve decided to debunk six myths about gas-electric cars.
Currently available on three models, GM’s eAssist technology is a product and packaging gamble the automaker has made that does not appear to be paying off. While the first two Buick models to receive the mild-hybrid system received modest praise, the new Chevy Malibu Eco has drawn so much criticism it was recently named “the most disliked vehicle of 2012” according to Fortune magazine.
The impact of that title, not to mention all the bad press that’s led up to it, can’t be understated. The reputation, and sales, of an entire lifecycle of Malibu models (the Malibu being one of GM’s largest volume products) is hanging in the balance.
It’s a case of technicality versus practicality: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration told Hyundai to replace the center rear seat belts in 14,728 Sonata Hybrids made between 2011 and 2012, but the Korean automaker declined.
It comes down to a dispute over why the belts need to be changed. U.S. safety regulations prohibit using “a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at the lower anchorage point,” in the middle position of the rear seat.
Hyundai agreed to comply by repairing the 1,633 Sonata Hybrids, but is reluctant to do the same for the 13,095 that already sold. The company argues that there isn’t a safety risk, and is filing for an exemption.
NHTSA will review Hyundai’s filing, but if the petition is denied, the company will need to proceed as initially advised. Only the hybrid versions of the car are affected. If the request is denied, Hyundai will contact vehicle owners, but because of the uncertain circumstances it would behoove owners to sign up for NHTSA’s recall notification system, just in case details slip through the cracks.
It’s no idle boast, especially as many lithium-batteries are said to have a maximum life span of around 7-8 years, yet until now Hyundai hadn’t released any specifics on its lifetime warranty for the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s battery pack.
As result, there’s been much speculation in regards to exactly what this battery warranty covers and doesn’t cover, though Hyundai, in an attempt to address these rumors has finally set the record straight.
In a statement issued from the company, it declared that, “the Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee ensures that if the 2012 Sonata hybrid lithium-polymer battery fails, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old battery pack free of charge to the original owner. The coverage is not transferable, and does not apply to lease and commercial vehicles or vehicles serviced outside the U.S.”
Note how the above doesn’t mention the battery system’s integrated hardware, software and controllers. These are covered by a warranty, though in this case it’s the Sonata’s Powertrain warranty which is good for 10 years or 100,000 miles, which ever comes first.
Hyundai’s US CEO John Krafcik, has already stated that Hyundai is able to offer the battery warranty because after extensive durability testing, failure rates for the battery system have proved to be minimal.
That said, if owners do experience major battery failure on their Sonata Hybrids, they might want to consider the car’s mileage and condition before looking to cash in on the warranty program, as depending on the circumstances, it could still work out to be quite expensive.
[Source: Car & Driver]
Hyundai appears to be strengthening its position in the hybrid marketplace, announcing that the Sonata Hybrid will get a lifetime warranty on its battery pack.
Hyundai hopes that by offering a lifetime warranty on the Sonata Hybrid’s battery that it’ll persuade buyers still skeptical about the long-term life of a hybrid battery. Hyundai CEO John Krafcik recently told Car and Driver that they “can afford the program because the failure rate is so low.”
Through some rigorous testing, Hyundai has seen “minimal degradation of its output or duration of operation” of its Sonata Hybrid’s battery pack, even after 300,000-miles of use.
Those were the only details that the Korean automaker announced, so it’s unsure whether or not the coverage will extend to other hybrid components. Either way, it’s a big step up from Toyota, which only offers an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on its hybrid batteries.
Hyundai is slightly increasing the price for their 2012 Sonata Hybrid, bumping the MSRP by $55 to $26,610 compared to the 2011 model. Also new for the 2012 model will be a Leather Package, priced at $1,500, offering leather seats, steering wheel and shift knob.
The Leather Package will also come with front and rear heated seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink and a compass. The Leather Package was previously only offered on the top-of-the-line Sonata model.
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system will also come standard on the hybrid model and drivers will be able to download the phone app in order to lock and unlock their car and to control other functions remotely.
Those looking to splurge on their Sonata Hybrid can also opt for the Ultimate Package, priced at $5,500. That package includes everything in the previously mentioned Leather Package but also adds 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, navigation, backup camera, premium sound and a few other luxurious trim options.
The Sonata Hybrid will remain with a 2.4L Atksinson-cycle engine under the hood with 166-hp while the electric motor will add 40-hp for a total output of 206-hp. Fuel economy is still rated at 40-mpg on the highway and 35-mpg in the city.
Hyundai will apparently launch a competitor to the Toyota Prius in 2013, but the new hybrid Hyundai will be a plug-in hybrid vehicle from the get-go, unlike its Japanese rival, which is slowly rolling out its own plug-in variant.
While the news came from an anonymous source within Hyundai, the Korean automaker is making a strong push in the hybrid segment, as rising gas prices and the launch of the Sonata Hybrid sedan have put Hyundai in an excellent position. Hyundai is also buoyed by Toyota’s hamstrung hybrid lineup, which has seen production difficulties due to Japan’s March 11th earthquake. Hyundai is projecting annual sales of 18,000 units for the Sonata Hybrid in South Korea.
With the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delayed due to a change to the pedestrian warning system, the Kia Optima Hybrid will face similar delays, with units expected to arrive at dealers sometime in the summer, a full 5 months later than planned.
The Optima Hybrid, being mechanically identical to the Sonata Hybrid, must also undergo the removal of a switch to disable the pedestrian warning system, which emits a sound to alert bystanders that the vehicle is running while the silent electric motor is online. Hyundai also wants the Sonata Hybrid to debut first, and with supplies trickling to dealers at a very slow rate, the Optima Hybrid must wait on the sidelines until the Sonata has made its presence known.
[Source: Wards Auto]
Hyundai is partnering with technology company NAVTEQ to offer drivers a “green” option for route guidance. The “green” choice will apparently yield a 6 percent bump in fuel economy, which should dovetail nicely with Hyundai’s new Sonata Hybrid and their Elantra, Veloster and Accent small cars, which are capable of 40 mpg on the highway.
Of course, driving in anger during a high traffic stop and go commute is the worst way to conserve fuel, but also the most common mode of driving for many people.
Hit the jump to read the press release
The Hyundai Sonata’s production delay due to the removal of an on-off switch for its sound emitting device looks like a smart move now that the federal government is looking to not only make the devices mandatory for hybrid and electric cars, but bar automakers from allowing drivers to cancel the systems via a dash mounted switch.
Since vehicles with electric propulsion systems are silent at idle, or when the electric drive is engaged, regulatory bodies fear that pedestrians are at risk if they are unable to hear the vehicles. With some hybrids able to operate at up to 62 mph before the gas engine engages, their fears may not be unfounded.
NHTSA expects a definitive ruling within the next three years, but in the mean time, don’t expect automakers to hedge their bets any time soon, with new hybrids and EVs likely featuring a mandatory chirp or other noise when they hit the market.
[Source: Automotive News]
After the United States legislated mandatory pedestrian warning systems for hybrid and plug-in vehicles, Hyundai was forced to go back to the drawing board, and modify their Sonata Hybrid sedan to comply with the new legislation.
The Sonata Hybrid was originally equipped to give drivers the ability to turn off the “chirping” sound emitted at low speeds to let pedestrians know that a car was approaching (at low speeds, hybrid and electric vehicles are virtually silent), but with Congress legally mandating the systems, Hyundai had to make changes to the Sonata Hybrid, with the wiring harness, driver interface and owners manual all had to be changed to ensure compliance.
The first Sonata Hybrid was delivered in January, 2011, a couple weeks behind schedule.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
A report from PlugInCars.com suggests that Hyundai‘s endless march towards global domination isn’t letting up, and the next phase of their product strategy involves both a Prius competitor and a plug-in variant of the Sonata Hybrid.
According to Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s head of product planning, the Sonata plug-in Hybrid would require little in the way of engineering to make it ready. “Other manufacturers’ hybrid systems were developed in such a way to not allow them to easily develop plug-in hybrids,” he said. “For the Sonata Hybrid to become a plug-in hybrid, really all we need are bigger batteries—the basic technology platform is already designed to support a plug-in variation.”
According to O’Brein, we’ll see something within the next 12 months at one of the major auto shows. Let the speculation games begin!
For more information on news, pictures, and more, please visit http://www.sonataforums.com/
[Source: Plug-in Cars]
To help promote just how fuel efficient the new Sonata Hybrid is, the folks at Hyundai employed the expertise of hypermiler Wayne Gerdes. Known for achieving 1,445 miles on a single tank of gas in a Ford Fusion Hybrid and for traveling 1,065 miles in a Hyundai Sonata 4-cylinder, Gerdes was able to travel across America on just less than two tanks of fuel.
In total, the trip stretched 2,269.3 miles from San Diego, CA to Jekyll Island, GA – resulting in an average of 59.58 mpg. Getting 1,221.2 miles on the first tank and 1,048.1 miles on the second tank (with 2.5 gallons remaining), Gerdes far exceeded the 700 miles per tank and 40-mpg rating of the EPA.
In a statement released about the trip Hyundai was also eager to point out that the Sonata Hybrid was driven in less than ideal conditions, over mountains an on interstates. That helps to explain why the 59.58-mpg rating is less than the 66.285 mpg rating the non-Hybrid Sonata achieved.
Hit the jump to see the Sonata Hybrid in action and get a few hypermiling tips from Gerdes.
GALLERY: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Across America
Green Car Journal has announced its candidates for its Green Car Of The Year award, with the five car field being composed of some pretty serious competition,
Naturally, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are the leading contenders, with the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rounding out the field, and the Ford Fiesta being the sole nominee that runs solely on a gasoline engine and no electric components. Regardless, the Fiesta can still get 40 mpg on the highway, making it a worthy candidate.
The winner will be announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November
Hit the jump to see the official press release
[Source: Green Car Journal]
The finalists for the 2011 Green Car of the Year award have been announced and unlike in years past there’s a lot of competition, not to mention a lot at stake. Some serious heavyweights are on the list for 2011 including the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. Other finalists include the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Interestingly, the Ford Fiesta has also made it through to the top five and is the only vehicle of the group that doesn’t incorporate some sort of electric drive. Notably absent this year are any diesel offerings.
The Leaf is touted as the world’s first mass-production electric car with a 100 mile range, while the Volt is able to travel anywhere from 20-50 miles on electric power before the gasoline engine kicks in to charge the battery packs and add an additional 300 mile range. Lincolns MKZ Hybrid is rated at 41/36-mpg (city/highway), while the Sonata Hybrid achieves 37/40-mpg. As for the Fiesta, it can achieve up to 40-mpg on the highway using conventional internal combustion technology.
“These five 2011 Green Car of the Year finalists reflect an auto industry in transition,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. “It wasn’t long ago when electric drive was a novelty. Now, it’s expected that auto manufacturers will include electric drive in some form among their model offerings.”
According to the Green Car Journal nominees, “must stand out as exemplary models that forward environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways,” while the “newness” of the technology and its ability to penetrate the market are also important.
The winner of the 2011 Green Car of the Year award will be chosen by a panel of judges that include Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club; Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society and Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA. And let’s not forget Jay Leno and Carroll Shelby and the editors of the Green Car Journal.
The winner of the award will be announced at the LA Auto Show on November 18th. We do, however, suggest you take the announcement of the winner with a grain of salt, as last year’s winner was Audi A3 TDI.
Official release after the jump:
Hyundai‘s Sonata Hybrid just had its launch in San Diego, and while driving impressions are embargoed until next Monday, we do have a bit of good news to report.
According to Dave Thomas of Kicking Tires, the Sonata Hybrid will be eligible for a $1,300 tax credit from the federal government. The tax credit is a little finicky; the rebate is determined by the vehicle’s city mileage, which means the 36 mpg rated Sonata gets a smaller rebate than the 41 mpg rated Ford Fusion Hybrid, but the credit is only available on the first 60,000 hybrid vehicles sold by the manufacturer. Ford, as well as Toyota, have sold far more than that number, leaving them ineligible for the credit.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Kia has just released a single teaser image of a new plug-in hybrid concept called the Ray. Set to debut at the Chicago Auto Show next month, little is known about the new vehicle other than that it was created by the team at the Kia Design Center America. It appears to feature a solar panel roof and has a bit of a Honda CR-Z flare to it with a chopped-off back end.
Kia parent company Hyundai has been showing its Blue-Will hybrid concept at several auto shows recently and so we expect the Kia Ray to be similar in many ways. The Blue-Will is powered by a 152-hp 1.6-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine and a 100kW electric motor and uses a lithium-polymer battery pack to achieve 50-55 mpg in standard hybrid mode, or as much as 106 mpg in plug-in hybrid mode.
Hyundai has said the Blue-Will could see production as a Prius competitor and so we have to think Kia has similar plans. Hyundai has also said it will deliver a hybrid version of the new Sonata later this year.
We’ll be sure to bring you more on the Kia Ray PHEV concept with live coverage of the Chicago Auto Show starting February 11th.
It may be a whole half year away but already some details are emerging about the cars expected to debut at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And the first vehicle is the all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata.
Recently the Sonata was spied testing in Dubai and it gave us a pretty good indication of what the vehicle will look like. Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik has said that it is intended to be a bold design that will help set the car apart from its successful Japanese competitors from Honda and Toyota. In fact, the 2011 Sonata is supposed to have a trendy four-door coupe profile.
There is no word on engine choices, but it’s not hard to guess that a four-cylinder engine will be standard with a V6 optional. High-technology items like direct-injection and a six-speed automatic transmission are also possibilities.
Additionally, Hyundai is expected to release a hybrid version of the 2011 Sonata, although that particular model is likely due out later.
[Photo Credit: Assayyarat]