Hyundai has toyed with various alternate fuel and hybrid technologies over the past decade, but officials bill the new BlueOn hatchback as the company’s first electric offering.
Unveiled this morning at Korea’s presidential residence (known as the Blue House, appropriately enough), the BlueOn is largely based upon the company’s next-generation i10 subcompact. Like its gas-powered siblings, the BlueOn looks much like the current i10 pictured above, albeit with a new hood, front clip, and headlamps that tie it to other Hyundai offerings.
What’s truly important lurks beneath the restyled skin. In lieu of a small gasoline or diesel engine, the BlueOn’s front wheels are driven by a 61-kW (82 horsepower) electric motor, which is powered by a 16.4-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. Used in other Hyundai hybrid vehicles (including the new 2011 Sonata Hybrid), this battery chemistry can offer the same power reserves as a nickel-metal hydride pack, albeit with 30 percent less weight and 40 percent less volume.
According to Hyundai, that battery pack grants the BlueOn an 85-mile range on a single charge. A complete recharge can be accomplished in six hours, but an 80-percent charge using a 380-volt quick charger can be performed in 25 minutes.
Development of the BlueOn has been nearly a year in the making (an electric i10 prototype was shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show), and Hyundai has allegedly invested nearly $34 million in the project to date. 30 vehicles will be provided to fleets within South Korea, allowing the Hyundai to test the car in the real world while rolling out a charging infrastructure. Early production will be limited, but if all goes according to plan, roughly 2500 BlueOns will be on Korean roads by the end of 2012.