Earlier this year the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig granted Germany the right to ban diesel cars from their major cities. This comes in the wake of rising concern over pollution levels, specifically nitrogen oxide (NO2). This unprecedented court decision has diesel motorists in other parts of the EU eyeing their vehicles askance. In fact, the diesel-car market share in Britain alone has dropped from 45% to 33% in just these few short months.
So why is Hyundai rolling out its best European seller (the Tucson) with a new diesel powertrain?
Well, this isn’t just any diesel powertrain. This will be the first time Hyundai has included an electrified diesel vehicle in its line-up. The engine in question is a 2.0 litre, four-wheel-drive diesel monster, paired with a 48V mild hybrid powertrain system. Which begs the question: what the heck is a ‘mild hybrid’?
In short, unlike a full hybrid or electric vehicle, the electric motor in a mild hybrid is not intended to ever power or propel the vehicle on its own. Instead, it provides assistance to the combustion engine. It does this in various ways.
To start with (pun intended) it replaces the mechanical starter- and alternator systems. When the vehicle comes to a standstill, the electric motor switches off the combustion engine to conserve fuel. When the vehicle moves off again, it restarts the combustion engine so smoothly the interruption is not even noticeable. When the vehicle is coasting or braking, this kinetic energy is recovered and stored in the battery. The motor, in turn, provides the engine with up to 12 kW of additional power, depending on the situation. Under normal acceleration, it helps to reduce engine load. When you put your foot down, it dumps all that power on the engine as extra torque.
The end result is saving up to 7% of fuel. Which still doesn’t answer the question: why a diesel powertrain? It is actually a very simple equation. Less fuel burned means fewer pollutants released. The new Hyundai Tucson, with its diesel mild hybrid powertrain, conforms to the Euro 6d Temp emission standards. It should therefore slide in under the ban, saving diesel vehicles (this one, at least) from major city expulsion. Hyundai has plans to pair the Tucson’s 1.6 litre engine with the mild hybrid powertrain later this year.
“With our new mild hybrid powertrain system for our best-selling model, we are further expanding the company’s electrification strategy to make clean technologies accessible for even more customers,” said Hyundai’s Andreas-Christoph Hofmann.
While South Africa is decades away from feeling the bite of the diesel ban, it is good to know that our favoured manufacturer is being responsible. Do your part to support green living and cleaner technologies. Test drive a Hyundai today.