Auto blogMon, 30 Jun 2014 11:57:00 EST
Completely redesigning a vehicle competing in a fiercely contested segment requires delicately balancing styling, performance, safety, efficiency, innovation, passenger comfort and pricing, while simultaneously not alienating model loyalists. In other words, it's no simple task.
Automakers generally follow one of two paths. Some take a conservative approach and choose to raise each bar marginally, in an effort to appease all and estrange none. Others strategically take risks and focus on specific attributes in an attempt to shift perception about their vehicle.
With its all-new 2015 Sonata, Hyundai has taken the second approach when overhauling one of its best-selling vehicles. The Korean automaker has executed an impressive number of targeted improvements, yet it's also softened some of its predecessor's qualities in an attempt to demonstrate greater refinement and position its midsize sedan upscale. Whereas the outgoing car successfully aimed to establish itself as a credible contender in the midsize segment, the new model is gunning for customers that might otherwise be seeking entry-level models from luxury automakers.
Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:59:00 EST
Hyundai is, understandably, "very confused by the fine and the different results."
The South Korean government is investigating Hyundai and Ssangyong, alleging that the two manufacturers overstated the fuel economy figures on some of their crossovers. But while the initial investigation is being carried out by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, a separate branch of government, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is supporting the manufacturers' estimates. See Americans, our government isn't the only dysfunctional one.
Connected cars are coming en-masse. We know this much. How, though, remains something of an open question, especially as two of the world's largest tech companies are preparing to battle for control of your car's dashboard. On the one hand, we have Apple and its CarPlay system. And now, we know what Google has been working on with Auto Link.
Its new name is Android Auto, and yes, it's based off the Android architecture that is the primary challenger to Apple's iOS mobile operating system. Announced at Google's I/O conference today, Android Auto functions similarly to CarPlay - owners will need to plug their smartphones into their cars to access the full breadth of capability.
In Android Auto's case, that means a wealth of voice controls to limit distracted driving. Google's marquee apps will be available when the interface arrives in production models later this year, including Google Play Music, Google Maps and voice-activated texting and text playback. Meanwhile, developers will be able to begin designing custom apps for the new system via an upcoming software development kit.
The reality of growing up and living in Detroit is an interesting one. You're essentially born with minute traces of gasoline in your veins and everyone you know is associated with the auto industry in some way. That's not an exaggeration. They might be the child of a line worker at the local auto plant, or they may hold down a job at a restaurant frequented by employees at a big supplier, but no matter what, everyone is part of the auto-industry ecosystem.
Because of this, the stories you may have heard about Detroiters and their distaste for foreign cars is, frustratingly, true. Simply put, Toyota and Honda are blatantly disliked by most, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz are merely tolerated. For a car reviewer who prides himself on making egalitarian recommendations, it's a frustrating environment to live in, particularly when friends and family ask that inevitable question - which is followed by an equally inevitable qualifier - "What should my next car be?" and "One more thing - it can't be foreign." It's this attitude that's perhaps the reason no one I know even considered buying a Hyundai Elantra.
Despite the fact that the compact sedan is built in Montgomery, AL and that Hyundai maintains a shiny, new, sprawling tech facility less than 45 minutes outside of downtown Detroit, the Elantra's status as a "foreign" car immediately precludes it from most Motown buyers' shopping lists. This is to their detriment, as I discovered during a week of testing the refreshed-for-2014 Hyundai Elantra.
The wholly renewed 2015 Hyundai Sonata is on the verge of launching here in the United States, but it appears there's a bit more to the story first told at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. Hyundai has just revealed the first images and details of the Sonata Eco, a new entry in its midsize sedan lineup that combines a small, turbocharged engine and dual-clutch transmission to achieve an estimated 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg highway.
That new powertrain is Hyundai's 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four, rated at 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent through a new, seven-speed dual-clutch 'box - the first gearbox of its type in the segment. Hyundai points out that the Sonata Eco's 32 mpg combined rating offers a 10 percent improvement over the 2015 Sonata SE with its 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four.
38 mpg highway is pretty impressive, especially considering rivals like Toyota's electrified Camry Hybrid musters up only one better, with 39 mpg on the highway (though its 43 mpg city fuel economy is, obviously, much better). And while Hyundai still has not detailed news about a next-generation Sonata Hybrid, we've heard the company is still committed to offering one.
Ever driven around DC? We have. And let us tell you, people drive like jerks in the nation's capital. Mostly because they think they're more important than you, and they're probably right. But Rhys Millen is out to put them all to shame.
In this latest video, the guy who Red Bull refers to as a "precision driver" (and who the rest of us would call one of the best drifters ever to burn rubber) takes to the streets of the District in his Hyundai Veloster Turbo. There he does what he does best around sites like Capitol Hill, Thomas Circle and RFK Stadium - the one-time home of the Washington Redskins and Montreal Expos (pardon us, "Washington Nationals") - all with a police escort of black Tahoes and Harley outriders. Scope out the action in the video below.
Consumers continue to struggle with the advanced user interfaces and technologies being fitted to new cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Overall, the industry average for problems per 100 vehicles climbed three percent, to 116 issues reported in the first 90 days of ownership.
Vehicles from the General Motors' family were dominant, with Buick, Chevrolet and GMC capturing more individual IQS segment awards than any other manufacturer. Despite its well-publicized issues, six GM vehicles (Buick Encore, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Terrain and GMC Yukon) were given IQS awards for their respective segments.
Hyundai was ranked the best overall mass-market brand, with just 94 issues in every 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days. Parent Hyundai Motor Company, meanwhile, trailed GM with five vehicles winning their segments, including the Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis, as well as the Kia Cadenza and Sportage.
Hyundai leased its first Tucson Fuel Cell crossover last week, which the automaker claims makes it the first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that has been offered to the public (Honda may have something to say about that...). The vehicle, which consumes hydrogen and emits only clean water vapor from its exhaust pipe, will initially only be offered for lease in Los Angeles and Orange Counties - two regions with the greatest density of approved hydrogen stations in the country - at a monthly fee of $499. Since the Tucson FCV rolls down the same Ulsan, Korea, production line as its gasoline-powered relative, production is scalable based on customer demand.
We attended the festivities with the dignitaries and elected officials - clapping until our hands hurt. But once it was over, we grabbed a set of keys and took the new FCV for a half-hour jaunt. According to the press materials, written with a welcomed sense of humor, Hyundai will offer it in three colors: white, white and optional white. Our test model was the latter.
Apple and Google. They're the Michigan and Ohio State of the tech world. They're New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, Real Madrid and Barcelona, or whatever sports-based rivalry you want to cook up. Bottom line, if one company expands into a segment, it's only a matter of time before the other follows suit. And now, that rivalry is about to carry over to your car's dashboard.
Unnamed sources are reporting to Automotive News that Google will unveil its very own challenger to Apple's new CarPlay in-car operating system later this month at the Mountain View, CA company's annual developer conference. The system, allegedly called Google Auto Link, will be the first product to come from the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership between Google, General Motors, Hyundai, Audi, Honda and hardware manufacturer NVIDIA.
The official announcement is expected to be made on either June 25 or 26, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Expect to hear a lot more about Google Auto Link then.
With expected pomp and circumstance, but short of a marching band, Hyundai delivered its first Tucson Fuel Cell crossover to the Bush family in Southern California on Tuesday. Dave Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, was on hand to officiate along with an array of other government officials, including California Air Resources Board chairman Mary Nichols. The automaker is touting the emissions-free vehicle as the "world's only mass-produced fuel cell vehicle" as it travels down the same assembly line as the other Tucson models - its production is scalable, based on demand.
The Tucson Fuel Cell replaces the standard model's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, gasoline combustion engine with a 100-kW fuel cell stack, which sends power to a 100-kW (134 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque) electric motor driving the front wheels. A 24-kW battery pack, shared with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, is used for storage. The vehicle earns the customer a combined 50 MPGe, while earning the automaker up to $130,000 through California's ZEV credit system.
As the hydrogen refueling infrastructure is extremely underdeveloped, Hyundai will initially only offer the Tucson Fuel Cell on a lease program to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County areas, where it has approved six stations with the 700-bar (WEH TK17 pistol-grip nozzle) pumps. The automaker has packaged the program with a $2,999 drive-off, with payments of $499 per month for 36 months. To nearly eliminate operating expenses, the automaker is throwing in "unlimited free hydrogen refueling" (keep in mind that the leasee is only contracted to 12,000 miles each year, so that will put a cap on how much free fuel flows from the pump) along with the company's At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost.