Chicago 2008: U.S. debut of the Hyundai i-Blue concept

Hyundai's i-Blue fuel cell concept that made it's world debut at last fall's Frankfurt Motor Show will make it's first appearance on American shores at the Chicago Auto Show this coming week. The mid-sized crossover is Hyundai's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle design. The i-Blue uses Hyundai's third generation in-house developed fuel cell stack. The stack is mounted under the center of the floor between the frame rails. The 10,000 psi storage tank holds 115L of compressed hydrogen. That's enough to drive the i-Blue 370 miles. The crossover has a top speed of 100mph thanks to its 100kW electric motor. Hyundai's press release is after the jump.

[Source: Hyundai]

Concept reveals third-generation fuel cell technology

CHICAGO, February 6, 2008 – Hyundai's new hydrogen-powered, zero-emission concept, the i-Blue Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), debuted in North America at the 100th edition of the Chicago Auto Show today. Developed at Hyundai's Design and Technical Center in Chiba, Japan, the i-Blue concept illustrates the design direction for a future FCEV production model. The all-new i-Blue platform features Hyundai's third-generation fuel cell technology, currently being developed at Hyundai's Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea.
The i-Blue demonstrates a significant step towards commercialization of Hyundai fuel cell vehicles. Unlike its predecessors which were built on production SUV platforms, the i-Blue features a new, purpose-built 2+2 crossover architecture. The smaller vehicle platform requires even greater engineering sophistication to package the fuel cell.

"The i-Blue is Hyundai's first-ever model designed from the ground up to incorporate fuel cell technology, marking a tremendous leap forward for our R&D program," said Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, president of research and development. "Our engineering team has successfully designed a more compact fuel cell vehicle, while still realizing the safety, comfort, convenience and driving range of a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle."
Hyundai is working toward mass production of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in the next decade.

The i-Blue is powered by a 100 kW electric engine and fuel cell stack. Fueled with compressed hydrogen (700 bar) stored in a 115-liter tank, i-Blue is capable of running more than 370 miles per refueling and achieves a maximum speed of more than 100 miles per hour.

The i-Blue's fuel cell stack is housed underfloor, not in the engine compartment as in the second-generation Tucson FCEV. This gives the car ideal 50:50 weight distribution for optimal driving and handling dynamics. Furthermore, by moving the fuel stack underfloor, the engine compartment is less densely populated, providing better air flow and cooling. The i-Blue drives with almost no sound yet passionate drivers will be delighted by the acceleration of the i-Blue's powerplant. Like other fuel cell vehicles, i-Blue's only emission is water vapor, fueling Hyundai's dedication to FCEV technology as a viable, environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine.

The i-Blue is a sophisticated and futuristic crossover concept sports tourer with the driving comfort of a sedan and the utility functions of a minivan. The i-Blue FCEV has a dynamic and elegant exterior design, resembling TaeKuk, which is based on the philosophy of Ying and Yang. In this philosophy, opposite forces are unified in perfect balance to create something new. The i-Blue's body was styled by unifying two distinct geometric forms – the square and the circle – thereby creating a rhombus-like shape. The i-Blue features a futuristic flow-form interior, which results in a relaxing, stretched-out seating position for the driver and passengers.

i-Blue employs the latest advancements in technology to ensure diving safety. Drivers of the i-Blue will be excited about the innovative, aircraft-like steering wheel that integrates touch-scroll control pads, enabling the driver to keep his hands on the wheel while operating the vehicle's audio-visual systems.

The 3D vision heads-up display (HUD) also adds safety and convenience by providing essential information for the driver at eye level. The Hologram HUD is positioned to minimize the driver's eye movements.

The outside environment is constantly projected through the vehicle's full-surround camera system. Using the latest image processing techniques, the vehicle's monitoring system provides a virtual picture of the vehicle and its surroundings, including hidden obstacles the driver may not see. This technology is particularly useful when changing lanes or parking the vehicle.
Finally, guages and multimedia controls are included in a liquid crystal display. Users have the ability to customize the settings according to their individual needs. Many more future convenience features from Hyundai, such as side- and rear-view monitors, are shown on the i-Blue concept vehicle as well.

As a crossover utility vehicle combining the benefits of both a sedan and a SUV, and incorporating a design theme born from the traditional beauty of Korea, i-Blue signals a new vehicle category.

From the hood and including the front fender, A-pillar, cabin and rear fender, the i-Blue's seamless cab-forward body provides perfect balance. From the TaeKuk theme of volume and surface in harmony, the character lines of the front and rear fender add chiseled detail to an otherwise rounded body sculpture.

From the approach, i-Blue borrows design themes from the Hyundai Concept Genesis, introduced at the 2007 New York Auto Show. The grille and headlamps have been expressed in crystal glass to depict the water from the fuel cell system. The powerful image of the rear invokes the wings of an airplane.

Cameras have been installed in the head lamp, rear combination lamp and high mounted stop lamp helping to promote a functional and high-tech design.

Length 190.9 inches / 4,850 mm
Width 72.8 inches / 1,850 mm
Height 63.0 inches / 1,600 mm
Wheelbase 112.2 inches / 2,850 mm
Tires 285/50 R20
Powertrain 100 kW electric engine
Fuel Cell Output 100 kW
Fuel Tank Pressure 700 bar
Fuel Type Compressed hydrogen
Fuel Tank Capacity 115 liters
Vehicle Range 372.8 miles / 600 km

Hyundai Motor Company is at the forefront of advanced technology research. In September 2005, Hyundai celebrated the grand opening of its Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea, which houses all R&D on environmentally friendly technologies, concentrating Hyundai's efforts to develop alternative powertrains in one state-of-the-art facility.

HMC is participating in fuel cell verification programs domestically and internationally. In the United States, Hyundai has been a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) since 2000. The CaFCP is a collaboration of 33 member organizations, including auto manufacturers, energy providers, government agencies and fuel cell technology companies, that work together to promote the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Hyundai's first-generation Santa Fe and second-generation Tucson FCEVs have both been tested at the Partnership's facility in Sacramento, Calif. In addition, Hyundai FCEVs have successfully completed five Partnership-sponsored Road Rally events covering nearly the entire state of California.

In 2004, Hyundai began a partnership with Chevron Corp. and UTC Power to initiate a 32-vehicle fleet testing program. This five-year cost-sharing program is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy. The goals of the program are to develop and demonstrate safe, convenient and reliable hydrogen-based distributed power generation, fuel cell vehicles and vehicle fueling infrastructure, and to educate key audiences about the use of hydrogen as a potential fuel for transportation and power generation.

Hyundai is currently operating fleets at Hyundai America Technical Center in Chino, Calif.; California Air Resources Board in Sacramento, Calif.; AC Transit in Oakland, Calif.; Southern California Edison in Rosemead, Calif.; and the U.S. Army TACOM facility in Warren, Mich.

A fuel cell vehicle is driven by electrical power generated from the energy conversion system called a "fuel cell." A fuel cell creates a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen called electrolysis which generates pure water and energy in the form of electricity, which makes the fuel cell vehicle pollution-free.

The core parts in a cell are the electrolyte membrane (that passes protons and bypasses electrons) and the bipolar plates (that have channels for reacting gases). To obtain sufficient power to drive motors, several hundred cells are piled up in a "stack" that generates electrical energy. The only by-product from the reaction is pure water vapor, which makes the fuel cell vehicle pollution-free.

Furthermore, the total efficiency is higher than that of internal combustion engine vehicles because a fuel cell directly converts chemical energy (fuel) to electrical energy without a mid-step of chemical-to-mechanical energy conversion. This can best be demonstrated by the mileage per liter. Hyundai's main fuel cell testing vehicle, the Tucson FCEV, has a gas mileage of 24 km/liter, while the internal combustion engine Tucson shows less than 12 km/liter.

HMC is participating in many verification programs domestically and internationally. It is making tremendous efforts to reach mass production between 2012 and 2015.

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