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Carbon neutrality vision

Leading the Hybrid Market

5 minute read

In 2011, Wayne Gerdes, founder of America's largest automotive fuel efficiency community CleanMPG, took a road trip like no other. Seated behind the wheel of a SONATA Hybrid, Hyundai's first mass-produced gasoline hybrid model, he drove from San Diego, California, across the country to Brunswick, Georgia, on just 144 liters of fuel. The 3,652 km journey was unique not only in terms of fuel efficiency but also set the stage for more Hyundai hybrid models to come.

Raising the bar in hybrid performance and selection

A hybrid model is any vehicle that combines an internal combustion engine with an electric motor to maximize fuel efficiency. At the time of Wayne Gerde's trek across the US, the Sonata Hybrid was the first hybrid model Hyundai had introduced to the North American market, and it demonstrated a greater driving range than any other model in the brand's lineup at that time. Since introducing the Avante LPi Hybrid in 2009, we have continually improved and expanded our hybrid range. We’re happy to say that all the engineering passion and innovative drive have paid off. Thanks to this, in 2023, our global hybrid sales exceeded 760,000 units, garnering love from numerous customers around the world.

Hyundai SONATA Hybrid, the first midsize hybrid sedan in profile.

A growing hybrid range for every taste and style

Today, we are all familiar with the term "hybrid," and seeing hybrid vehicles on the street is commonplace. But back in the late 1990s, it was quite a different story. It was then that the term became popular as automotive companies worldwide started to increase their environmental commitment.
The beginning was challenging, primarily because the hybrid system development technology at that time was far from what we know and enjoy today. Despite this, we overcame the many challenges and internalized technology development thanks to the patience and vision of our engineers. A significant milestone in our hybrid history was the debut of the AVANTE LPi Hybrid, which paved the way for further models, ranging from compact to mid-size and full-size sedans. In 2019, we entered the SUV segment with the KONA Hybrid. Its introduction was soon followed by hybrid versions of the TUCSON and SANTA FE models, thus giving customers a broader selection to choose from.

Hyundai KONA hybrid model traveling down a curved road.

Harnessing hybrid technology

Our comprehensive range of Hybrid models is the result of extensive research and development, as well as a deep commitment to advancing sustainable mobility. It began with developing a "parallel" hybrid system that uses a clutch between the engine and motor to effortlessly switch between driving and charging modes. Implementing this structure initially presented significant challenges, but the rewards were worth it. As Jaewon Ha, an engineer at Hyundai, states: "To implement the parallel hard-type hybrid system, it was essential to secure additional space for mounting the motor between the engine and automatic transmission. To create this space, we had to replace the torque converter with an engine clutch, among other difficulties in the development process. However, through persistent effort, we were able to complete our own hybrid system."
The results of this concentrated group effort brought a wide array of new advantages both in efficiency and driving performance.

 The research engineer is presenting and explaining a hybrid motor.

In EV mode, Hyundai's hybrid system excels in transmission efficiency and EV driving speed. Its rapid responsiveness enables superior acceleration and dynamic driving performance. Jaewon Ha, Part Leader of the Electrified Propulsion Drivetrain Engineering Design Team

Unique in its class: e-Motion Drive

At Hyundai, we aim to incorporate the latest sustainable mobility technology and further advance it to create something unique. Our e-Motion Drive system is a perfect example. As a feature that sets it apart from the competition, e-Motion makes it possible for the internal combustion engine and motor to operate individually or together in perfect harmony. The result of this advanced hybrid system is improved driving performance, a smooth ride, and increased comfort. The latest models of the SANTA FE and TUCSON hybrids feature our state-of-the-art e-Motion Drive technology. They also have a 1.6L gasoline turbo engine and Hyundai's first self-developed battery applied in SANTA FE, providing superior performance and driving comfort.

A vehicle driving stably through torque vectoring during sharp turns as seen from above.
A vehicle driving stably through motor control on a winding road seen from a bird's eye view

Highlights on the highway

Driving should be a joy, which is why we strive to elevate the experience in every possible way. This is seen in the latest SANTA FE and TUCSON Hybrid, which incorporates various innovative features engineered around performance and comfort. An example is the ‘e-Dynamic Drive’, which improves driving performance, while the ‘e-Comfort Drive’ feature controls vehicle vibrations for a smoother ride. Unique as well is the paddle regenerative braking mode feature, which provides appropriate driving convenience based on driving conditions.
All these breakthroughs and more have helped us solidify our leading position in the hybrid market. We've come a long way since launching our first hybrid model and look forward to all the new developments around the corner.

It fills me with pride to see the culmination of the efforts we've made since launching our first hybrid vehicle in 2009, consistently developing and mass-producing various models for the past 15 years. Jaewon Ha, Part Leader of the Electrified Propulsion Drivetrain Engineering Design Team

Hyundai GRANDEUR model with hybrid system.

We aim to broaden the range of choices for consumers when they consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle. YongSeok Kim, Vice President of the Electrified Propulsion Test Group

What's ahead for hybrid vehicles?

Hybrid vehicles continue to be a popular choice along the way to a full transition to electrification. Their comfort, exceptional fuel efficiency, and user-friendly nature make driving a pleasure, whether it’s across the country or just across town. So, what's the next chapter in Hyundai's HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) story? For our research teams, the answer is easy: the further expansion of our vehicle lineup with more hybrid models across vehicle categories and continuously offering customers new driving experiences. Their motto: "We plan to continuously introduce more competitive hybrid models while offering customers greater choice and driving pleasure." Yongseok Kim, the vice president of Electrified Propulsion Group, summed it up: "For hybrids to become the mainstream beyond internal combustion engines, they must satisfy diverse consumer needs. Future HEVs must evolve to meet various demands, such as driving range, quietness, and price competitiveness."

The impressive profile of a Hyundai TUSCON parked on a sunny urban street
A engineer is explaining something with arm gestures

Taking charge of the future

Even 20 years ago, hybrid technology was virtually nonexistent, and the sight of such a vehicle on the street was an exotic occurrence. It was then that we took the promise of mobility through hybrid technology and made it a unique and game-changing part of our vehicle offers. Today, we are proud of what we have achieved and look forward to all the hybrid breakthroughs to come.

To get the newest updates on our hybrid technology, follow @hyundai on instagram.


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