The Hyundai Blue-Will concept isn't entirely new; it first appeared last April at the Seoul Motor Show. However, it is making its North American debut next week in Detroit. What makes the Blue-Will special is that it is Hyundai's first ever plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The hybrid powertrain is based on the same Blue Drive architecture that Hyundai unveiled at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. This is a strong parallel hybrid system, meaning it's capable of driving the vehicle under electric power alone, use the internal combustion or a combination of both. The first production applications will find their way into the Korean market Elantra LPI hybrid and the Sonata hybrid that debuts late this year.
For the PHEV version, the electric motor/generator is increased in size from 30 kW on the Sonata to 100 kW, which should allow it to operate under electric power pretty much throughout its operating range. Hyundai doesn't say how big the lithium ion polymer battery pack is, however, the automaker claims the Blue-Will can go 40 miles on an single electric charge.
In addition to the hybrid hardware, which can provide start-stop capability for the engine and regenerative braking, the concept also features a thermal electric generator. This is designed to convert the heat energy of the exhaust gases into electrical energy to be stored in the battery. The engine is a direct injected version of Hyundai's 1.6-liter Gamma inline-four with 152 horsepower.
The concept has the same 106.3 inch wheelbase as the current Elantra Touring, but the overall length is seven inches shorter. According to Hyundai this concept "may" also provide a preview of a future dedicated hybrid to compete with the Toyota Prius, and if that happens, expect it to arrive sometime late next year.