Hyundai And Kia Plan Electric, Hybrid Invasion
At this stage in the game, it is still very unclear whether one particular type of alternative fuel will emerge as a technological frontrunner. Different companies are currently building hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVs, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and clean diesel cars, all at the same time, and each has its own niche in the market. So apparently, Hyundai (and sub-brand Kia) has chosen to just build versions of each rather than risk guessing wrong and getting left out. But even as the company readies itself to bring a diesel to the U.S., big plans are afoot to also greatly expand the hybrid and EV options.
The plans call for a dedicated hybrid model, related to the next-gen Elantra, but with a distinct design, to debut in 2017. The car will use the company’s 1.6-liter engine along with an electric motor. There will be both Kia and Hyundai versions, but with different designs. The Kia will be a tall hatchback and the Hyundai will be a sedan. These will probably be offered as both conventional hybrids and as plug-in hybrids. A pure electric version is also coming, but only for the Hyundai, as Kia already has the 2015 Kia Sould EV.
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Why it matters
Hyundai CEO Choong-ho Kim has said that he wants to increase the competitiveness of the company’s eco-friendly vehicles, and this is an excellent way to do that. The decision to go with a dedicated hybrid model is different from what many competitors do, but there is no denying that dedicated models like the Prius far outsell very similar models that are based on existing conventional vehicles (like the 2014 Honda Civic Hybrid).
Plug-in and EV variants of the vehicle might help sales even more, but not for everyone in the country. It seems that Hyundai currently only has plans to sell the EV in areas where there are zero emissions mandates, such as California. This is largely because hybrid sales are down at the moment because of relatively inexpensive gasoline, but sales will eventually pick back up, and Hyundai recognizes that it’s a good idea to something ready for when that happens.
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Source: Automotive News