Hyundai Motor America announced a breakthrough today that will promote safety and fuel economy. The Korean car maker will start selling Nerf cars in the second quarter of 2009.
The new line will include an economy car, a mid-size sedan, an SUV, and a minivan. Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson said that engineers and designers in the company's California design center worked with Hasbro to make the Nerf technology work in an automotive environment.
"Nerf brings a lot to the table," noted a Hyundai spokesman, "protecting pedestrians and helping with global warming." Since the material weighs much less than steel, aluminum or fiberglass, vehicle weight is reduced by 20-35% in the first round of applications. The lower vehicle weight means less gas is needed to make the cars move forward, leading to an average of 25% increase in fuel economy.
On the safety front, lower weight means less kinetic energy and lower forces in collisions. Also, the spongy material provides greater cushioning, especially in collisions with pedestrians. With decades of development in the toy industry, Nerf works very well in various climates. A particular concern was whether it would absorb water during wet weather, but testing shows this not to be a problem.
Naming of the models has not been decided yet, but they will likely include the trademarked Nerf brand name.
Hyundai shares were up 5% on the news.