Hyundai enters electric vehicles race with BlueOn

Hyundai Motor Co. joined the global race to lead the market for electric vehicles with its first full-speed battery-charged model BlueOn on Thursday.

The vehicle, which took 40 billion won ($34 million) and about a year to develop, is based on Hyundai’s subcompact i10, which is sold exclusively in overseas markets.

The company, which had previously focused more on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, said that the BlueOn’s development was accelerated in light of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s focus on electric vehicles, a company official said.

Fitted with an electric motor capable of producing up to 61 kilowatts of power, and 16.4 kilowatt-hour lithium ion polymer battery pack, the vehicle is an exact match to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car in terms of hardware.

However, by adding a number of new features including the active hydraulic booster system that recharges the battery using the energy generated while braking, the company was able to extend the driving range offered by a fully charged battery pack.

Using the technology, the company extended the BlueOn’s driving range to 140 kilometers, surpassing the Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s 130 kilometers, despite both electric vehicles having the same battery capacity.

The BlueOn is also fitted with a number of components such as the motor-driven power steering and electronic brake oil pressure amplifier that help to improve the battery efficiency, the company said.

The vehicle is also fitted with an on-board charger that allows the battery pack to be charged using the standard 220 volt household electrical outlet.

Using 220 volt outlets, the vehicle can be charged to 90 percent capacity in six hours, and to 80 percent capacity in 25 minutes using the 380 volt rapid charging system.

In comparison, the i-MiEV requires seven hours using the standard system and 30 minutes using the rapid charge system.

In terms of performance, both vehicles have the same top speed of 130 kilometer per hour, but with zero-to-100 kilometers per hour acceleration time of 13.1 seconds Hyundai BlueOn offers higher acceleration than its Japanese counterpart.

By Choi He-suk,