Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hyundai Santa Fe MY15 Muscles Up With SR Model

The Hyundai Santa Fe SR has been unveiled featuring a tougher look and boasting improved on-road prowess.

This is the first SUV to wear Hyundai's fledgling SR badge, following in the tyre prints of the Veloster, i30 and Accent models.

Changes are primarily skin deep, although product planner Andrew Tuitahi points out that the changes mean the "Santa Fe SR looks, corners and stops harder".

Prices are yet to be announced before its arrival early next year, but the SR will be the hero of the MY15 Santa Fe range which has just been released.

The line-up has been tweaked with revised pricing, which has seen the base model stay at $38,490 while mid and top-spec variants have risen slightly.

Engineers overhauled the Santa Fe brakes to feature Brembo four-piston monobloc front calipers and two-piston rears. They pull the anchors on matt-black 19-inch alloys shod with Michelin Latitude Tour tyres.

Combined with H&R performance springs it results in stopping distance reduced by 8% from 60kmh, and an SUV with corners harder with and feels remarkably more nimble.

There are no diesel engine enhancements, and it won't get a dual exhaust system which we saw this week because it means dropping the full-size spare.

"For the Santa Fe SR we're sticking with the standard engine while offering unique, sportier styling, improved braking performance and higher-specification tyres," says Tuitahi.

"Combined, these attributes make a significant difference in terms of lateral grip and cornering, and so too do the springs in terms of feel and response.

"I think we've ticked a lot of the right boxes. In terms of sports SUVs, at our price point I don't think there are any direct competitors for this vehicle."

While we'll have to wait until 2015 for the SR, the latest updated Santa Fe models have already arrived.

Standard kit is still seven airbags, stability control and a host of associated safety technology, hill descent and ascent control, full-size spare, 10.9cm touch-screen, cruise control, auto lights, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming and a reversing camera with parking sensors.

Elites now get an automatic tailgate, along with 18-inch alloys, stainless steel scuff plates, folding heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a larger touch-screen with sat nav and 10 speakers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather trim, a smart key with push-button start, climate control and a cooled glovebox.

Highlander have lane departure warning system and automatic parallel parking functionality added to the previous complimentary kit of 19-inch alloys, a panoramic glass roof, xenon headlights, LED rear lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, electric adjustment for the front seats, and heated front and second-row seats.

The SR will get a sports bodykit, Brembo brakes, H&R performance springs and Oz Racing wheels with Michelin tyres.

Model: Hyundai Santa Fe MY 15.

Details: Mid-size all-wheel seven-seat drive sports utility vehicle.

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 141kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 242Nm @ 4250rpm; 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating 145kW @ 3800rpm and 421Nm @ 1800-2500rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.0 litres/100km (petrol, auto and manual); 6.6L/100km (manual diesel); 7.3L/100km (auto diesel)
CO2: 209g/km (petrol models); 174g/km (diesel manual); 192g/km (diesel auto).

Towing capacity: 2500kg (m), 2000 (a), tow ball rating 100kg.

Bottom line: Petrol - Active (m) $38,490, Active (a) $40,990. Diesel - Active (m) $41,490, Active (a) $43,990, Elite (a) $48,490, Highlander (a) $53,240.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Hyundai Motor Company’s brand value continues to climb, reaching a new high as the 40th most valued global brand on Interbrand’s 15th annual 100 Best Global Brands Report. This year Hyundai’s brand value rose to $10.4 billion, a 16 percent increase. Since 2005, Hyundai has steadily increased its position on Interbrand’s list and now sits seventh among the top 14 automakers.

“We’re implementing a wide variety of brand-related activities that aren’t simply focused on increasing sales, but are aimed at becoming a brand that our customers genuinely love,” said Won Hong Cho, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We will continue to invest in our brand, by providing Hyundai Motor’s unique premium experience in all aspects of the customer’s journey with our brand.”

In addition to the company’s focus on delivering high-value vehicles that offer the latest technology and safety features at a competitive price point, Hyundai also has aligned itself with some of the world’s leading events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and World Rally Championships.

Hyundai is one of the fastest growing automotive brands, in terms of both volume and brand value. At the heart of Hyundai's growth is its strategy to differentiate and increase relevance by creating customized products,” Interbrand said in a statement. “Hyundai's unique convenience features, from heated steering wheels and blind spot detection to lane departure warnings and smart cruise control, are now available across a broader range of vehicles to enhance the driving experience and customer satisfaction.”

Automotive brands have a strong presence on this year’s list making up a combined brand value of $211.9 billion. According to Interbrand, a combined focus on energy-efficient products and integrated technology is helping leading auto brands drive brand loyalty and value.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hyundai Makes Diversity Key Part of Business Plan

Diversity is part of the business plan at Hyundai Motor America, with clear-cut objectives for which those in charge are held accountable, the company’s CEO said Monday.

Dave Zuchowski, speaking at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Automotive Project conference in Detroit, said that diversity and inclusion used to be part of Hyundai’s social responsibility department. But “it didn’t work well because there was no ownership from the operating groups,” he said.

Now, diversity is part of the company’s business plan for every department with clear-cut objectives in areas such as hiring, the automaker’s retail network, suppliers, marketing and advertising. Employees are held accountable for meeting those objectives, Zuchowski added.

Growth potential

“Ninety-two percent of the growth in the automotive business is female and ethnic diversity buyers,” said Zuchowski. “That means you can’t do business the way you used to do business.”

According to data compiled by IHS Automotive, of the 502,000 new cars and trucks vehicles sold to African Americans in the first six months of 2014, 5.6 percent were Hyundai vehicles. Hyundai’s share of overall U.S. sales was 4.6 percent in the same time period.

But about only 29 of Hyundai’s 700 sales and marketing employees are African Americans. “That’s not good enough,” Zuchowski said. “The people who sell our products and services have to reflect the people who buy our products and services.”

Diversity council

One of the first things Zuchowski did when he took over as CEO in January was set up a diversity council of 17 employees -- including himself -- of different ethnic backgrounds, genders, ages and sexual preferences.

The council meets monthly to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the company and all of its operations, said Zafar Brooks, director of general affairs, government relations and diversity at Hyundai. Brooks is on the council.

Hyundai America is analyzing and digging into “the little things within the company that will lead to bigger things,” Zuchowski said. “We’re sending a message that the status quo isn’t good enough.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Car Report: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Looks to Make a Mark

The Hyundai Genesis has been around for six years and is a good first try for a near-luxury sedan. For 2015, Hyundai went back to the drawing board to make a true luxury sedan, and from the outside, it really looks the part.

The previous Hyundai Genesis had a rear-wheel-drive V6 and a strong V8 that offered good power and a large cabin for comfortable cruising at a very reasonable price. But that large cabin had an interior that wasn't quite up to luxury-car standards. So it was never really considered one of the normal mid- size luxury sedans.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis shed the more generic sedan look and comes with a new design that stands out in a crowd. With a larger grill and some curves and bulges on the front end, it now looks like a big-dollar car.

But the base price is still a bargain in the mid-size luxury sedan market -- at around $38,000 for rear-wheel drive with a V6, $40,500 for an AWD V6. It's the first time the Genesis can be had with all-wheel drive, though not if you choose the $52,000 Genesis 5.0 V8.

I spent a week in a $52,450 fully loaded 2015 Genesis AWD with $12,000 worth of options packages. The Signature package comes with a big panoramic roof, ventilated and heated seats, power rear sunshade, and shades for the rear passengers.

The Tech package included upgraded leather seats, smart cruise control with stop and start for easy driving, and front and rear parking assistance.

The final package was the Ultimate, which includes genuine wood trim and aluminum trim, a heads up display, a larger nine-inch center screen for the NAV system and a Lexicon sound system. Each package came with more, but I only have so much room.

All these packages transform the Genesis into a very nice ride on par with the other luxury sedans I've driven.

The interior is really nice with the leather and trim. Other materials are up-to-date and very competitive with others in the class. The seats are very good as well; my wife thought they were the best.

The materials used throughout the cabin are a big step forward. The nice soft-touch materials and the real wood is nicely done. It's as nice as the more expensive larger Equus. The rear seats are good with heated seats, but rear-seat headroom may be lacking for taller passengers.

Driving the Genesis is now luxury-car good. The cabin is very quiet and serene, and it handles bumps as a luxury car should. It's no sports sedan anymore, so don't go throwing it into corners if you've driven the old Genesis R-spec.

The V6 is good for 311 horsepower, and that seems like plenty of power. There is a 420-horsepower V8 available to go along with a smooth eight-speed automatic. Fuel mileage for the AWD Genesis is 16 city and 25 highway. I averaged 19.8 mpg over 210 miles of mixed driving.

The Genesis lets drivers enjoy a more relaxed driving experience, which is something I look for in a luxury sedan. Hyundai has really put the Genesis into a great place to compete.

With style and a nicely upgraded interior, the smartly priced Genesis -- also with a big warranty -- moves Hyundai firmly into the luxury-sedan market.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rally For Moose

Dear Sponsor,

            We are writing in hopes that you will join us to honor the memory of Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot at the Rally for Moose Cross Country Run at Ashley Reservoir on Sunday, November 9 at 1:31 PM, the starting tome symbolic of the 131st Squadron.
      A natural leader, a stellar flight instructor, a “difference maker”, a decorated Air Force Officer and, most importantly to him, a father and husband, Moose joined the 104th Fighter Wing in March as a full-time wing Inspector General, and was killed on Aug. 27 when his plane crashed in Virginia. He had a distinguished and highly-decorated career in the Air Force but decided to transfer to the Air National Guard last year mainly to be able to set up a permanent home for his daughters, Natalie and Nicole, who are a sophomore and freshman at Longmeadow High School. His career included five overseas deployments and 2,300 hours flying, with half of that serving as an instructor. In the air, he led teams to war and on tactical training missions. In Washington, he was a leader as a congressional fellow at the Department of Defense.
   The role he will forever be remembered by is father, “Natalie and Nicole you know how much your daddy loved you and he was so proud of you,” Fontenot’s wife said speaking directly to her children at a memorial ceremony at Barnes on September 7. “He loved you more than his Air Force career and flying F-15”.
  Moose gave himself every day to everyone. It is that spirit that his friends and Air Force family have set up the Fontenot Family Memorial Fund to assist them with housing and education costs. The Rally for Moose Cross Country Run will attract 1,000 runners from across Western, Ma and be a highly visible community event in the media.
  Please review the sponsor form and consider helping honor the legacy of Lt. Col. Fontenot. A member of our committee will follow up shortly to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me directly at or (413) 858-5514.

With sincere gratitude,
Lt. Col. Jed “Chowda” Conaboy 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Fuel Cell Vehicle Test Drive: The 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

On a sunny fall day last week, my Clean Vehicles colleagues and I had the opportunity to test drive the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell – an electric vehicle that runs on electricity produced from hydrogen. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) may not be as well-known as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) like the Nissan LEAF, or plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt, but they are a promising solution to our oil use, and are beginning to hit the road in California.

The main difference between FCEVs and the other types of EVs is that instead of storing electricity in a battery, FCEVs generate electricity via a fuel cell that combines oxygen from the air with hydrogen stored in on-board hydrogen tanks. One major advantage of FCEVs is that they can be used and refueled like a conventional vehicle; the Tucson Fuel Cell, for example, can travel about 265 miles on a full tank of hydrogen that can be refilled in mere minutes. You can find additional background on the difference between the various types of EVs here and, for a deeper dive into the particulars of FCEV technology, check out this post by my colleague Dave.

The fuel cell driving experience

What was it like to drive a FCEV? Exceedingly normal. The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell accelerated, braked, cornered, and cruised almost exactly like a conventional vehicle. The only real difference was that the engine was nearly silent while operating, and while it provided some additional power off the line due to its electric motor, there’s no way to rev the engine at a red light to show you’re ready to race.

The only sounds you could hear in the cabin were from the wheels hitting the pavement and the typical cascade of honking from drivers attempting to navigate through traffic on K Street in the heart of downtown DC. I expected that removing my foot from the accelerator would cause the vehicle to abruptly slow down due to the regenerative braking, but the Tucson rolled smoothly even when my foot was off the pedals. The Tucson was also quite roomy, comfortably fitting five people in the cabin, and was well equipped with amenities that drivers have come to expect like Bluetooth connectivity, power locks and windows, and the cargo space of a compact SUV. Overall, it was a great test driving experience, and I’m excited to see this technology take off across the U.S.

What’s next for fuel cell vehicles

Perhaps the most promising aspect about fuel cell technology (aside from the fact that FCEVs produce zero tailpipe emissions) is that adding energy storage, and therefore adding range, only requires a larger hydrogen tank. This means the fuel cell technology could enable the electrification of bigger SUV-type vehicles — one of the most popular classes of vehicles in the U.S. — and for medium- or heavy-duty trucks. Of course, in order to use a FCEV, you need somewhere to fill up with hydrogen, and California is leading the way in installing hydrogen stations. California expects to have 54 hydrogen stations open to the public by the end of next year and automakers like Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda are all working to introduce FCEVs to select markets in the next few years. Drivers are already leasing the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell in California, and Toyota is “seeking drivers to drive change” by leasing their FCEV in 2015.

FCEVs are part of our plan to reduce oil use

Battery electric, fuel cell electric, and more efficient gasoline vehicles have often been portrayed as competitors, but these technologies are actually complementary. Plug-in electrics can take advantage of the existing electric infrastructure and smaller electric cars can be especially efficient and cost-effective for urban dwellers or commuters. FCEVs are a good option for larger vehicles, longer driving distances, and for drivers without a spot to recharge. And since gasoline-powered vehicles will be continue to be sold in the coming years, continuing to increase the fuel efficiency of gasoline-only conventional vehicles will also play a key role in transformation transportation in the U.S. All of these technologies are part of our strategy to cut our nation’s projected oil use in half and now with the imminent arrival of FCEVs, many of us will soon have more clean vehicles options to choose from at the dealership.