Hyundai: Ioniq highway mpg to top Prius
Hyundai: Ioniq highway mpg to top Prius
One motor, one clutch, yet sent through a dual-clutch transmission? Is that right? Can anyone clarify what this means and how it works exactly?NAMYANG, South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Co. says its new Ioniq, to be offered in three electrified versions, will succeed in the U.S. because it is tailored, even more than the Toyota Prius, to Americans' driving styles.
The Ioniq, which sports a one-motor, one-clutch setup, will deliver better highway fuel economy than the Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid, said Yang Woong-chul, Hyundai's global r&d chief.
The car, which will be launched this month, offers one body type with three electrified drivetrain options: a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric variant.
The Ioniq is Hyundai's latest attempt to gain traction in a segment of alternative-energy vehicles long dominated by Japanese rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp., with the Prius, and Nissan Motor Co., manufacturer of the Leaf electric car.
"It's totally different from Toyota's or any other company's," Yang said of the Ioniq's technology.
"Our hybrid is a better fit for American driving situations," Yang told Automotive News here near Hyundai's r&d center. "When it is announced, the whole world will be surprised."
Globally, the regular hybrid is expected to be the Ioniq's top-selling version, Yang said. The other drivetrains will trail, with the plug-in hybrid likely to sell better than the EV in Europe, while the EV is projected to outsell the plug-in hybrid in the U.S., he said.
Facing increasingly stringent emissions regulations and stiffer competition in electrified vehicles from rivals, Hyundai needed to step up its alternative drivetrain strategy, analysts say.
"Hyundai's overall commitment to develop low carbon-emission green vehicles was not sufficient in terms of model numbers," said Andy Bae, IHS Automotive's senior analyst for Korea. "The performance of Hyundai's EV and hybrid vehicles was behind its competitors in terms of fuel economy."
Hyundai has improved the Ioniq's electrified drivetrain from the company's hybrid system used in the Sonata Hybrid sedan.
"We completely started anew to get the best of all things, instead of applying the best of what we already had," Yang said.
For starters, it switches to a dual-clutch transmission from a standard automatic one. It also gets a smaller, more-efficient electric motor and an engine modified for hybrids.
All three versions of the Ioniq will use lithium polymer batteries made by South Korean supplier LG Chem, Yang said. The polymer structure is safer than the traditional lithium ion batteries used by some rivals, Yang said.
Highway fuel economy matters in America because drivers there spend a lot of time in high-speed, long-distance commutes. The Prius gets its best mileage in stop-and-go city traffic; Yang declined to give a fuel economy figure for the Ioniq, but said it will top the Prius on the highway.
The secret to the Ioniq's efficiency is the the one-motor, one-clutch system. It is simple, lightweight and inexpensive. The Prius, by contrast, uses a more complex two-motor setup.
"A lot of people worried about how Hyundai, without a long history of developing hybrids, could overcome such well-established hybrids. But we have been very successful," Yang said.
But one-motor, one-clutch systems are challenging to engineer because it is hard to synchronize the spinning motor with the engine speed before engaging them through the clutch.
"That's the hurdle which no company had overcome," Yang said.
Hyundai resolved the problem by adopting a powerful central processor that was fast enough to manage a quick and smooth clutch lockup. The lockup takes just 0.6 seconds, Yang said.
The Ioniq will debut this month in South Korea, and then be shown in March at the Geneva and New York auto shows.
Hyundai is so confident of its car's uniqueness, it worked the word "unique" into the second part of the nameplate's moniker. The first part, ion, comes from the name for an electrically charged atom, a nod to the electrified powertrain.
The "Q" will be depicted in the car's logo to express a "visual breakthrough" that symbolizes the "fresh new approach" of the vehicle, the carmaker said.
The vehicle gets an exclusive new platform to fit all three powertrain options while delivering responsive handling.
Hyundai and corporate sibling brand Kia have been working on Toyota Prius rivals for more than half a decade.
In November, Kia unveiled a five-year development plan to expand its green-car lineup to 11 models from four today. That rollout will include electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars, plug-in hybrids and traditional hybrids.