Hyundai sets fuel efficiency goals

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Hyundai sets fuel efficiency goals


Korea’s two largest automakers, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, have been commanded by Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo to improve fuel efficiency for their vehicles by 25 percent by 2020.

The world’s fifth-largest automotive group said yesterday it has completed a road map for boosting their products’ gas mileage by an average of 25 percent over the next six years, which includes developing next-generation engines, reducing the weight of cars and expanding its environmentally-friendly vehicle lineup.

“Chairman Chung in the first half ordered the companies to capture world-class competitiveness in fuel efficiency by 2020,” said a spokesman from Hyundai. “Hyundai and Kia have been working to set up goals for each stage with a task force.”

The issue of fuel efficiency is stressful for Hyundai and Kia after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 found that they inflated the fuel economy of their vehicles.

After a two-year investigation, the U.S. government on Monday announced that it reached a settlement with both automakers to pay a $100 million civil penalty for overstating mileage-per-gallon claims on 1.2 million vehicles.

The settlement also said that Hyundai and Kia must audit the test results on current models and set up an independent group to certify future test results, which is expected to cost around $50 million.

Although Hyundai and Kia said their fleets’ fuel efficiency in 2020 will be 25 percent better than in 2014, they said exact targets can’t be given because the figure will differ by each country depending on the models offered and the sales volume.

According to data from the EPA, the average fuel efficiency for Hyundai’s fleet was 29 miles per gallon last year, while Kia’s was 27.4 miles per gallon, both top class considering the industry average was 24.1 miles per gallon.

The EPA’s preliminary data for this year shows that Hyundai is at 27.3 miles per gallon, while Kia is at 25.7 miles per gallon. Japanese automaker Mazda was No. 1 in the EPA data with 28.8 miles per gallon for this year.

To meet the 2020 goal, Hyundai and Kia said they will first replace 70 percent of its 10-engine lineup by developing new gasoline and diesel engines.

“In gasoline, the revamped model of the Nu engine for middle-size cars and the Kappa engine for small cars will be introduced,” said a Hyundai spokesman. “In diesel, a new type of engine to replace the R engine will come out.”

Hyundai said that it will also improve the performances of its transmissions. Currently, the eight-speed rear-wheel drive automatic transmission is their most fuel efficient.

The company said it expects to see 11 to 13 percent fuel-efficiency enhancement in gasoline engines and 16 to 18 percent improvement in diesel engines once the new engines are introduced. Upgrading transmissions is expected to bring 2 to 9 percent fuel-efficiency enhancement, the company said.

Both automakers said they will also focus on reducing the weight of their vehicles with lightweight materials. They aim to reduce the weight by 5 percent on their models using aluminum wheels and engineering plastics.

However, Hyundai and Kia said they won’t forfeit the use of advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) that was used in the latest editions of the Genesis and Sonata sedans and the Sorento SUV for upgraded safety. The two companies said the use of AHSS in the cars’ bodies is about 52 percent, and it aims to increase that portion to 62 percent by 2018.

Hyundai Motor Group affiliates also announced that they will expand their environmentally-friendly car lineup. They said that a new compact hybrid model and a Sonata plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be introduced next year.

The Korean government in September announced that the corporate average fuel efficiency for auto fleets in 2020 should be 24.3 kilometers per liter (57.1 miles per gallon).

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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