First Look: 2009 Hyundai Nuvis Concept

It seems Mazda's designers aren't the only ones studying fluid dynamics. When it came time to craft the Hyundai Nuvis concept, debuting at this week's New York auto show, designers studied the way water flows around the sides of a boat.

"Our goal was to create a living machine that the driver and passengers could be part of," said John Krsteski, manager of Hyundai Design. "There are no lines on or in this car that are standing still."

Both the idea and the execution are remarkably similar to Mazda's series of Nagare concepts, but the Nuvis still manages to keep its Hyundai identity intact. The overall shape and form of the concept's front fascia echo the production Veracruz, which isn't too surprising - Hyundai hints that this may influence a future production vehicle, albeit we doubt there's much of a future for the blue exterior accent lighting and gullwing doors.

The opposite can be said of the Nuvis' drivetrain. Hyundai wants to offer hybrid vehicles (starting with a Sonata in 2010) in the U.S, which will likely use the BlueDrive parallel-hybrid system similar to the one in the Nuvis.

Here, it couples a 2.4-liter I-4 to a six-speed automatic transmission, which is teamed with a 30-kW (40-hp) electric motor. The Nuvis can be powered by either the gasoline engine or electric motor alone, but can mix the two when droves of power are required.

Most interesting is the lithium-polymer battery mounted underneath the cargo floor. The 270-volt battery has a similar chemistry to lithium-ion cells, but allows more power to be stored in a smaller package. Similar batteries are used in Kia's Forte LPI hybrid, and we expect the technology to be a staple of Hyundai hybrids to come.

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