Hyundai's Santa Fe blue Hybrid, introduced in Paris, uses a new and more efficient battery composition that may be used in the brand's upcoming production hybrid vehicles.

Hyundai unveiled the next step in its hybrid-electric program at the Paris Motor Show with the introduction of the Santa Fe blue Hybrid. With Hyundai’s first production hybrid, the Elantra LPI, waiting in the wings for a July 2009 launch, the Santa Fe blue Hybrid represents a possible next step forward and showcases the brand’s new family hybrid system.

The Santa Fe blue Hybrid is powered by a 2.4 liter gasoline engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and a 30Kw electric motor. As in other hybrids, the electric motor also works as a generator to charge the batteries. An engine shutoff/restart system reduces idle time for the gas engine, and electronic power steering reduces parasitic engine losses. The Santa Fe blue Hybrid uses a 270V lithium polymer battery, unlike the lithium-ion batteries in wide use today. According to Hyundai, the more durable Li-Poly battery offers lower production costs as well as a higher energy density and longer life. Hyundai says that this parallel hybrid architecture will be used as the basis for upcoming production hybrids.

In addition to the integrated starter/generator, the 2.4 liter four-cylinder has been modified for use in the Santa Fe blue Hybrid with extensive friction-reduction measures, to improve its operating efficiency. Hyundai says that the Santa Fe’s performance has not been affected by the conversion, and the 10.6 second 0-100 km/h acceleration suggest that this is true. CO2 emissions have been reduced to a combined 148 g/km, and the Santa Fe blue Hybrid returns 6.2l/100km fuel economy.

The Santa Fe blue Hybrid looks just like any other Santa Fe on the show floor, except for its three-piece panoramic glass roof. Developed by Magna Car Top Systems, the sliding glass panels are UV-filtered and feature a shade to protect occupants from the sun. There’s no word yet on whether or not Hyundai plans to put it into production.

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