Friday, May 29, 2015
2016 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Continues To Attract Zero-Emissions-Focused Customers With New Colors And Features
Hyundai's zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle continues to satisfy and attract new customers focused on high-versatility and clean transportation. For 2016, the Tucson Fuel Cell adds convenient HomeLink® connectivity to the mirror, allowing owners to open and close garage doors, security gates and even control home lighting systems via a button on the rearview mirror, which now includes a digital compass. In addition, Tucson adds two new exterior color options to Winter White: Hydro Blue and Chromium Silver.
"At Hyundai, we strongly believe that hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, and we're proud to be a leader in offering the mass-produced Tucson Fuel Cell to our customers," said Dave Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor America. "Every day, these customers are enjoying the benefits of refueling speed and superior range that compare favorably with gasoline vehicles, providing a seamless transition from traditional vehicles with minimal loss of utility. We're confident that advancing fuel cell technology will increase the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, and that everyone will benefit."
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell has also received strong support from government agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board. "These ultra-clean vehicles play a critical role in our efforts to clean the air and meet our climate goals," said Air Resources Board chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Fuel cell cars are not vehicles of the future – they're here now, and we applaud Hyundai for bringing them first to market in California where they are most needed."
FUEL CELL PRICING AND BENEFITS
The Tucson Fuel Cell lease program remains unchanged for 2016. Customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region can drive Hyundai's next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell for just $499 per month for a 36-month term, with a $2,999 down payment. This includes the addition of a remarkable benefit – unlimited complimentary hydrogen refueling and At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost.
"When we spoke with customers about fuel cell vehicles, many wondered about the cost of hydrogen," explained Mike O'Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning. "To ease those concerns as the hydrogen refueling network builds out, we decided that covering this cost for these early adopters was appropriate, and consistent with how we like to treat our customers."
In addition, Tucson Fuel Cell owners will enjoy similar services enjoyed by Hyundai Equus owners, such as At Your Service Valet Maintenance, at no extra cost. Similar to what Equus owners have enjoyed since its introduction in 2010, should a Tucson Fuel Cell require any service, a Hyundai dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loan vehicle, then return the car after service to the customer's home or business, at no charge.
Customers interested in the Tucson Fuel Cell can indicate their interest (the first step in the ordering process) by visiting Hyundai.com. Retail consumers can find availability at three select southern California Hyundai dealers: Win Hyundai in Carson, Tustin Hyundai, and Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions of the U.S. consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.
TUCSON FUEL CELL ADVANTAGES
Hyundai has developed its Tucson Fuel Cell to alleviate some of the range and utility limitations of traditional battery electric vehicles. The Tucson Fuel Cell maintains the day-to-day flexibility of the gasoline-powered Tucson, so that its driver is able to fulfill their transportation needs without range or recharging-time concerns to their lifestyle.
The Tucson Fuel Cell is an advanced electric vehicle – one that creates its own electricity, on-board, from hydrogen. According to the University of California, Irvine Advanced Power and Energy Program's 2013 study, the hydrogen fuel cell provides comparable total well-to-wheel emissions to a battery electric vehicle. For the Tucson Fuel Cell driver, this social benefit is achieved with greater utility, versatility and without compromises. Consider:
- Driving range of 265 miles
- Refueling time similar to gasoline vehicle of same size
- Minimal reduction in daily utility compared with its gasoline counterpart
- Instantaneous electric motor torque
- Minimal cold-weather effects compared with battery-electric vehicles
- Superb daily reliability and long-term durability
- No moving parts within the power-generating fuel cell stack
- More than two million durability test miles on Hyundai's fuel cell fleet since 2000
- Extensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed
- Quieter EV operation
- Zero greenhouse-gas emissions, emits only water vapor
The Tucson Fuel Cell began mass production in February 2013 at the Ulsan, Korea assembly plant that also manufactures the Tucson gasoline-powered CUV. Manufacturing the Tucson Fuel Cell at the same plant allows Hyundai to leverage both the high quality and cost-efficiency of its popular gasoline-powered Tucson platform.
HYDROGEN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS
The benefits of hydrogen are well known - required supplies for the U.S. market can be produced domestically and its supply is virtually unlimited. It can be produced by varied means - including renewable sources such as biogas. Hydrogen can even be sourced directly from water, using electrolysis to split hydrogen molecules with electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Further supporting hydrogen infrastructure development, California approved a plan in 2013 to develop up to 100 hydrogen refueling stations in the state over the next several years. This recent California initiative dovetails with increased government support of hydrogen infrastructure development at the federal level, such as H2USA. In addition, the California Energy Commission recently announced proposed awarding of $44.5 million for the development of 28 new hydrogen stations (plus one mobile refueler), bringing the total number of hydrogen fueling stations (open, in-development, and proposed) to over 50 stations.
FUEL CELL TECHNOLOGY: HOW IT WORKS
Hyundai's fuel cell effectively replaces the battery pack used in an electric vehicle by generating electricity from hydrogen through an electrochemical process that does not involve hydrogen combustion, with no moving parts within the fuel cell stack.
The fuel cell electrochemical process is as follows:
- Hydrogen enters the anode, air (oxygen) enters the cathode
- Catalyst splits the hydrogen electrons and protons
- Electrolyte conducts the positively-charged ions while blocking the electrons
- Electrons are used to create an external circuit, generating electricity
- Catalyst combines the hydrogen ions and electrons with oxygen to create water and heat energy
- A single fuel cell produces approximately one volt; fuel cells are "stacked" to meet voltage requirements
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Hyundai has pulled the wraps off its second-generation Sonata Hybrid this week and it gets some unique touches to set it apart from the normal Sonata models in the line. Those unique touches include unique wheels, and unique front and rear fascias. Those unique front and rear fascias are there to do more than just make the car look visually different from the other Sonatas in the range they also improve aerodynamics.
The 2016 Sonata Hybrid uses a smaller 2.0L Nu GDI four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The combustion engine is mated with a more powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch where normal cars have a torque converter. That larger battery and the transmission-mounted electrical device are able to deliver fuel economy and the feeling of a larger motor.
The fancy transmission has an electric oil pump to improve efficiency and the car is able to operate solely on electricity as speeds of up to 75mph. It does that by decoupling the gas engine from the rest of the drivetrain. The engine itself produces 154hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor makes 51hp and 151 lb-ft of torque and they combine for 193 net hp.
Hyundai says that the Sonata Hybrid is expected to achieve 40 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway with a combined rating of 42mpg. That is a 10% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the 2015 model. The lithium-polymer battery pack is mounted in the trunk floor and is a 1.62 kWh unit. The car can be fitted with a wealth of safety features including blind spot detection, lane change assist, and lane departure warning. Pricing is unannounced at this time.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra GT is one of the best examples of the current hatchback renaissance. Curmudgeonly critics like us have carped for years about America's hatchback aversion, but we'd better find a new routine because our fellow Americans have apparently seen the light. The affordable-hatchback segment is an embarrassment of riches these days, teeming with sexy specimens that boast all the latest technology, and with the arrival of the Elantra GT, the most appealing hatchback of all might be a Hyundai.
Derived from the Euro-market Hyundai i30 hatchback, the Elantra GT has a shorter wheelbase than the Elantra sedan, and it's tuned for sportier handling. Unlike the sedan's bare-bones starter model, the base Elantra GT comes with plenty of equipment, and plenty more is available via the two simple options packages. Plus, just look at the thing: The Elantra GT is an exceptionally attractive economy car. The hatchback is back, and as we've come to expect, Hyundai's at the front of the pack.
What's New for 2015?
The Elantra GT carries over unchanged for the 2015 model year.
What We Like
Rich feature set; attractive styling; generous cargo space; sportier handling than Elantra sedan
What We Don't
Lacks sedan's stylish dashboard; so-so fuel economy
The front-wheel-drive Elantra GT features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that puts out 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. The transmission choices are a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic.
The 2015 Elantra GT receives an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the manual or 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with the automatic. That's not very impressive for a compact hatchback these days.
Standard Features & Options
Standard items include 16-inch alloy wheels, driver-selectable steering effort, a height-adjustable driver's seat, full power accessories, a trip computer, air conditioning, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth/USB connectivity.
The optional Style package ($1,975) adds 17-in wheels, LED taillights, a panoramic sunroof, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, aluminum pedals, leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Tech package ($3,950) requires the Style package and tacks on automatic headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button starting, a navigation system with a 7-in touchscreen, a rearview camera and premium audio.
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra GT comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain).
The Elantra GT received five stars out of five in government crash tests, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts.
Behind the Wheel
The Elantra GT's front seats have been beefed up from regular Elantra duty with more aggressive side bolsters, a nice touch in an inexpensive compact. The available power driver's seat is exceptionally adjustable and supportive. The deeply hooded gauges feature Hyundai's standard-issue clear numerals and blue accents. Surprisingly, the Elantra GT's dashboard and control layout is less stylized than the Elantra sedan's. Compare the two side by side, and you'll find that the GT plays it safe with fewer complex curves and surfaces. Happily, most of the controls are no-nonsense and easily learned, while materials quality is satisfactory.
The Elantra GT's shorter wheelbase takes a small bite out of back-seat space, but there's still room for full-size adults there if the adults in front play nice. Trunk space is 23 cu ft., while folding down the rear seatbacks opens up a healthy 51 cu ft.
Under the hood, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder delivers reasonably peppy performance in most situations. It feels strained at times, but it's a definite improvement over the old 1.8-liter unit that was discontinued after 2013. As for transmission, the precise 6-speed manual gives a more responsive feel, but at least the optional 6-speed automatic's downshifts are quicker than the norm these days. We do wish the 1.8-liter motor was still available, as we're sure there are folks who would rather have less power and an extra 3 mpg.
On the road, the Elantra GT handles crisply atop its sport-tuned suspension. The standard driver-adjustable steering effort is a first for this class, and it illustrates one of the main technological advantages of electric power steering: customizability. We'd still pick a Ford Focus or Mazda3 first for enthusiastic driving, but those models don't offer the Elantra GT's value. The Elantra sedan is already a nimble little car, and the shorter Elantra GT feels even more resourceful in tight spots. In part because of its relatively light weight, the Elantra GT can get a little out of sorts on rough roads, but we're generally impressed with the smoothness of its ride.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Ford Focus -- You usually get what you pay for when it comes to economy cars, and the Focus is one of the most expensive. Sure enough, it drives almost like an entry-level luxury car, with uncommon refinement and athleticism for this class.
2015 Mazda3 -- With its smooth SkyActiv 2.0-liter engine (not to mention the spunky optional 2.5-liter version), the 3 has vaulted to the head of the class in fuel economy without losing Mazda's traditional performance edge.
2015 Volkswagen Golf -- The 2015 Golf feels amazingly solid at highway speeds, and it has top-notch interior quality. We like the new turbocharged 1.8-liter engine, too.
Used Audi A3 -- We're not talking about the current A3 sedan but rather the previous-generation hatchback, which can easily be found in gently used condition for Elantra GT money. You're going to want a warranty, though.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
When the funky Hyundai Veloster hatchback first debuted, it had practically everything going for it except speed. But these are power-hungry times, so scribes like us were quick to jump on Hyundai for not offering more horses under the hood. That's no longer an issue, however, because the 2015 Hyundai Veloster boasts not one but two turbocharged variants: the regular Turbo and the sporty R-Spec. Not surprisingly, we're struggling to find anything amiss these days with Hyundai's hot hatch.
The Veloster Turbo is a big deal because it's both fun to drive and remarkably affordable. It undercuts the price of comparably equipped rivals such as the MINI Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI by thousands. Like every Hyundai, it's backed by a stout 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, so if you're skeptical about turbo reliability, Hyundai has your back.
Don't sleep on the even more affordable base Veloster, though, because it's fundamentally the same car minus the turbocharger, so you get the same sporty handling and surprisingly refined high-speed demeanor, plus extra fuel economy. Either way, it's getting harder and harder to nitpick with this happy-go-lucky Hyundai.
The Veloster is unchanged this year.
What We Like
Energetic optional turbocharged motor; solid fuel economy; fun to drive; lots of technology; innovative rear door; great warranty
What We Don't
Base engine lacks punch; automated manual transmission could use refinement; firm ride
The base Veloster is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque with the 6-speed manual transmission. If you specify the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual, output drops to 132 hp and 120 lb-ft. Fuel economy is pretty good, checking in at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the stick shift and 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy with the automated manual.
Opt for the Turbo or R-Spec, and you'll get a spunky turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard, while a 6-speed conventional automatic is optional (the automated manual is only offered on the base model). The manual returns 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy, while the automatic gets 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Hyundai Veloster is offered in base, RE:FLEX, Turbo or R-Spec trim.
The base Veloster ($18,825) comes with a robust roster of standard perks, including 17-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior accent lights, a center-mounted trapezoidal exhaust outlet, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver seat, and a 6-speaker audio system with a 7-in touchscreen (including a rearview camera), Pandora radio capability and iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The base model is eligible for two packages. The Style package adds 18-in alloys, a chrome grille surround, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, an 8-speaker Dimension audio system, piano-black interior accents, leatherette seat and door trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and alloy pedals. The Tech package (which requires the Style package) tacks on rear parking sensors, different 18-in alloys with painted inserts, automatic headlights, keyless entry/start and a navigation system.
The limited-production RE:FLEX ($22,775) is essentially a base Veloster with the Style package's features as standard, also adding chrome exterior accents and black or red leather upholstery.
The Turbo ($23,425) steps up to the plate with a turbocharged engine, an electronic limited-slip differential, unique 18-in alloys, exclusive exterior styling elements, center-mounted twin circular exhaust outlets, heated leather sport seats with Turbo embroidery, a quicker steering ratio and two thin-film-transistor (TFT) driver-information screens.
A Tech package for the Turbo combines elements of the regular Veloster's Style and Tech packages, highlighted by the rear parking sensors, panoramic sunroof and navigation system. It also throws in automatic climate control.
The R-Spec ($22,425) is an edgier, slightly less luxurious Veloster Turbo with some aggressive touches, including exclusive design cues, a sport-tuned suspension, red-trimmed leatherette upholstery and a sport shifter.
Cargo space in the hatchback Veloster measures 15.5 cu ft. by default and 34.7 cu ft. with the rear seatbacks folded down.
The 2015 Hyundai Veloster comes with standard stability control, a driver-side blind spot mirror, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side, full-length side-curtain).
In government crash-testing, the Veloster received the top 5-star rating overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Veloster its top rating of Good in three of the five tested categories, downgrading it to Acceptable (second-best out of four ratings) for side impacts and Marginal (second-worst) in the small-overlap front test.
Behind the Wheel
Our interior evaluation of the Veloster left us impressed with the base model's front seats, as they feature more lateral support than we're used to feeling at this price. The turbocharged model's sport front seats are even grippier. Common to all trims is the spaceshiplike dashboard, which looks so cool that we're inclined to forgive the mediocre materials employed. The tilt-telescopic steering wheel offers ample adjustability, while the clean, crisp gauges are complemented in the Turbo by a pair of graphically dazzling TFT information screens. Ergonomics are surprisingly good for such an adventurous design, particularly the foolproof climate controls.
Access to the Veloster's back seat is via a conventional forward-hinged third door on the passenger side. It's like a 4-door hatchback without the driver-side rear door. That means the rear door opens independently, unlike the so-called suicide door that some other 3-door cars have utilized, so rear passengers are free to enter and exit as they wish. Passenger space in back is mostly fine, but taller riders won't have enough headroom.
The Veloster's standard 7-in touchscreen really sets it apart when compared to other affordable hatchbacks. Hyundai knows its target buyers want to be on the grid at all times, so virtually every imaginable connectivity feature comes standard. You can also crank tunes from Pandora if you've got an iPhone. The one notable disappointment is that the optional navigation system isn't hard-drive based, so you can't store your music on it.
Under the hood, the Veloster's base engine needs all the horses it can get, so our preference is for the satisfying stick shift with its added output. Also, the automated gearbox could use some more development to sharpen its sometimes clumsy shifts. Cost being no object, the pick of this litter is undoubtedly the turbo, which provides most of its ample torque under 2,000 rpm thanks to twin-scroll technology. The enhanced engine pulls like a train on the highway, even in sixth gear. It can motor.
On the road, the Veloster's steering feels a bit artificial, even in quicker-ratio Turbo form, but it's responsive enough to be entertaining. The Veloster's wide front track is palpable, keeping the car mostly planted to its handling limits. On the highway, meanwhile, the Veloster is unexpectedly an absolute champ, tracking straight and true at speeds we're not allowed to mention. It's downright Germanic, really. We're less enamored by the way the chassis flexes over rough pavement, but hey, let's be honest: Hyundai did a darn good job tuning the Veloster's ride and handling.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 FIAT 500 -- The 500 has a power shortage of its own unless you pony up for the turbocharged Abarth. Nonetheless, it has plenty of Italian style if you're looking for a little more sophistication.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ -- No motivation issues here, as the turbocharged Sonic LTZ has plenty of zest for squeezing through traffic. It's a surprisingly comfortable car on the highway, too.
2015 Honda CR-Z -- Honda's odd hybrid-powered coupe only has two seats, but it gets better overall fuel economy than the Veloster, and we like its slick 6-speed shifter and futuristic interior.
Used Volkswagen GTI -- VW has a thriving certified pre-owned program with an attractive factory warranty, and the more luxurious and capable GTI can definitely be found in lightly used condition for Veloster money.