South Korean car manufacturer, Hyundai, has announced they are entering the hybrid bus business. We already knew they are going whole-hog into hybrid cars but buses are a beast of a different stripe. This is something they seem to have realized and so are approaching this market niche from a slightly different angle by beginning with a more affordable mild hybrid architecture.

Incorporating an 8Kw electric motor, this system is centered around stop-and-go. When the bus comes to a stop, so does the engine and when the foot comes off the brake the engine is spun back up to speed. Other hybrid tricks include regenerative braking and an electric fan for engine cooling. Because it is so simple the company hopes to offer both a diesel and CNG version and estimates the final cost to its customers to be about a fifth of a full hybrid design.

The first dozen should be delivered by the end of this month for real-world testing and the plan is to begin mass production by the end of 2009. It hasn't closed the door on a more efficient full hybrid either. Development work on that model should be completed by the middle of the summer with delivery to test fleets happening some time this Fall. Read the official press release after the jump.


Press Release

April 01, 2008 Hyundai Develops Commercial Vehicle With a Mild Hybrid System

# New city bus will reduce engine idling and CO2 emissions while raising fuel efficiency
# Much more affordable solution than a full hybrid system
# Incheon, Suwon municipalities to start fleet tests of 12 units
# Mass production to start end of 2009

(Seoul, Korea) Hyundai Motor Co., which last week announced plans to start retail sales in 2009 of hybrid electric vehicle passenger cars, has developed a cost and fuel-efficient city bus that employs a mild hybrid system based entirely on Hyundai��s proprietary technology. The application of a mild hybrid system to a commercial vehicle will accelerate the wider use of eco-friendly vehicles which reduce CO2 emissions and fuel costs.

The mild hybrid system uses an 8KW AC (alternating current) motor and generator which is used to automatically shut off the engine when the vehicle stops and to rapidly spin it back up when the driver releases the brake pedal. It also transforms wasted kinetic energy?during braking of the vehicle?into electrical energy which powers the engine��s cooling fan motor. Depending on driving conditions, a vehicle equipped with this mild hybrid system will be able to save between 15~20 percent in fuel costs.

This mild hybrid system can be easily applied to any diesel or CNG-powered vehicle and costs about one-fifth the price of a full hybrid system. While full hybrid systems can improve fuel efficiency by up to 50 percent compared to a conventionally-powered vehicle, their substantially higher initial cost results in a much longer payback period which make full hybrids less appealing to commercial vehicle fleet owners.

Hyundai Motor Co. will supply two city buses to a Suwon transit bus company in early April and 10 buses to another bus operator in Incheon at the end of April for fleet testing, which will be closely monitored. Hyundai plans to mass produce the mild hybrid city buses by the end of 2009. The company will complete the development of a full hybrid system by mid-year and the full hybrid buses are scheduled to go into the first fleet tests in the second half of this year.

Hyundai estimates that a city bus with the mild hybrid system will be able to cut about 6-8 million won in diesel fuel costs a year.

If the idle stop and go system is applied universally to all trucks and buses, the mild hybrid technology could play a key role in reducing emissions and CO2 and other hydrocarbons and help prevent global warming.

[Source: Hyundai]

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