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 |  Sep 16 2009, 5:35 PM

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When it comes to hybrid and eco-friendly technology, it looks like blue is the new green. Both Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have chosen the color blue to represent their environmentally friendly vehicles with their respective Blue Drive and Blue Efficiency brands. Hyundai’s latest hybrid concept, the Blue-Will, is a look into the future of eco-friendly vehicles.

First introduced at the Seoul Auto Show in April,  the Blue-Will made an appearance at the Hyundai exhibit at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Concept cars usually include features that are way out there and will likely never see production. In the Blue-Will, this would include features like the  LED screen under the front grille (which seems a bit strange when an internal graphic display promotes fuel saving driving habits).

Some of the Blue-Will’s features may be worth another look however. Touch screen drive selection may not appeal to those who like the feel of a stick, but with the Blue-Will’s continuously variable transmission, the only choices you’ll have are drive, reverse, neutral and park. Touch screen HVAC and entertainment controls seem like a natural evolution however, judging by the popularity of products like the iPhone.

The Blue-Will is powered by a 152hp GDI 1.6l engine and a 100 kW motor in a proprietary parallel hybrid system. Hyundai says this parallel hybrid architecture will be the base for the company’s future hybrid models, starting with the next generation Sonata in the U.S.

Another interesting innovation is a thermal generator in the exhaust manifold that converts heat into electrical energy. Hyundai says this energy will be used to power auxiliary systems, which, we assume, include the LED screen above the front bumper.

The Blue-Will is a plug-in hybrid, and designers have placed the power port at the front of the car behind the pop-out Hyundai insignia on the front grille. The lithium ion polymer battery is located under the rear seat however, so more conventional location for the power port may make more a sense.

Overall, the Hyundai Blue-Wire is an interesting concept, but with some of the choices the designers made might make you wonder what that concept is.

Gallery: Hyundai Blue-Will Concept

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 |  Apr 02 2009, 12:14 PM

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Kia has chosen the Seoul Auto Show to officially take the covers off the new 2010 Sorento CUV and we’ll have to admit to being impressed. The new SUV is better in pretty much every way.

The new Sorento is built on an all-new platform that is longer, with a dash that has been moved further forwards and a tailgate that has been moved further rearward. The new SUV now has more legroom, headroom and shoulder room than the previous model, with 2.5-inches more headroom and 4-inches more legroom for third-row passengers. Trunk space behind the rear seat has also been increased by 15 percent.

The Sorento’s driving dynamics have been improved thanks to a body that sits lower by 10mm and a center of gravity that is 54mm (2.1-inches) lower. There is even a better feel from behind the wheel as the Sorento gets a six percent more direct steering rack.

Inside the crossover is impressively luxurious and features plenty of technological gadgets and gizmos, including a push-button ignition, navigation with a 6.5-inch LCD screen and the choice of a 6, 8 or 10 speaker sound system with a MP3 and iPod connectivity.

There’s even a panoramic glass roof.

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Safety features like HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) and DBC (Down-hill Brake Control) are also a part of the package, as is a back-up camera with images being transmitted to a screen on the car’s rear view mirror.

As for engine options, the Sorento will be offered with four different engines including a 2.7-liter V6 LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) powerplant available in Korea, a 2.2-liter diesel engine (with 194hp and 321 ft-lbs of torque) destined for international markets and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 173hp and 166 ft-lbs of torque.

Fuel economy should improve significantly thanks to a new six-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed automatic will also be available, and it’s not clear if it will be offered in North America (but likely will on lower trim levels). There is even a six-speed manual available, but that will most certainly not make it to the U.S.

And as expected, the Sorento will be available in 2WD and 4WD.

“With the new Sorento, we have created an all-new, seven-seater CUV that will soon be recognized as an ‘exciting all-rounder’ with a much broader customer appeal,” said Hyoung-Keun Lee, Senior Executive Vice President & COO of the International Business Division at Kia. “Despite the current economic uncertainties, we are confident that New Sorento will significantly increase Kia’s share of the utility vehicle market, achieving annual global sales of 140,000 units from 2010.”

GALLERY: 2010 Kia Sorento

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Mar 24 2009, 10:53 AM

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Ahead of it’s official unveiling at the Seoul Auto Show, Kia has dropped the curtain on its first ever hybrid, the Forte LPI hybrid.

Based on the upcoming Forte compact sedan, the hybrid model makes use of a 1.6-liter engine that runs on liquid petroleum (more commonly known as propane). The Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) engine makes 114hp with an electric motor that adds an additional 20hp for a total of 134hp.

The battery pack in the Forte LPI is a new state-of-the-art product that Kia has developed with parent company Hyundai and LG Chem. This lithium polymer battery (as opposed to the lithium-ion batteries used in most other hybrids) is lighter and smaller and has a higher output than a nickel-metal hydride unit.

A new CVT transmission is also a part of the package.

Kia says the Forte LPI hybrid will achieve a combined fuel economy rating of 40.5 mpg – which is says is the equivalent to 50.6 with gasoline (presumably due to the lower cost of propane).

Unfortunately LPI or propane isn’t readily available in most markets and so this vehicle isn’t likely to make it to most of the world. The vehicle will, however go on sale in South Korea in August.

While unveiling the car Kia did, however, state that it will bring another full hybrid car to production in 2010, with a hydrogen fuel cell car and plug-in hybrid in 2012. Parent company Hyundai is also planning a hybrid version of the Sonata for 2010.

GALLERY: Kia Forte LPI Hybrid

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[Source: Kia-World.net]

 |  Mar 09 2009, 5:12 PM

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Thanks to the folks at KiaWorld.net, we have these photos of the 2010 Kia Sorento. Looking significantly more modern than the old model, the crossover has also grown in size.

The vehicle measures 184.8-inches in length (an increase of 3.9-inches), 74.2-inches in width  (an increase of 1.4-inches), and 67.3-inches in height (a decrease of 0.6-inches). It will also feature a 5mm shorter wheelbase for a total of 2700 mm (or 106.3-inches)

Engine options will include a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.8-liter V6 for the U.S. and Europe, with a diesel engine offered in Korea. The new diesel is the first all-new environmentally-friendly “R-diesel” engine from Hyundai/Kia and will get 200hp from a 2.2-liter turbo-diesel with an average fuel-economy rating of 16.7. I twill also meet EURO5 requirements.

Also available in Korea will be a 2.7-liter engine and it is expected that a a six-speed automatic transmission will be offered across the line.

As for the design, as promised the Sorento features Kia’s new corporate face, which the company debuted on the No. 3 Concept car at the Geneva Auto Show.

More info will be available at the Sorento’s official unveiling at the 2009 Seoul International Auto Show.

GALLERY: 2010 Kia Sorento

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[Source: KiaWorld]