Though its first hybrid model won’t reach U.S. showrooms for some months, Hyundai is already planning a big assault on the growing global market for gasoline-electric vehicles.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will likely be followed by a mix of models, including dedicated hybrid offerings, much like the popular Toyota Prius, said senior Korean officials, with the technology expected to account for as much as 20% of the maker’s total global volume by the end of the decade.
But while plug-in models could be included in the mix, Hyundai is skeptical about the potential market for pure battery-electric vehicles, barring either significant improvements in battery technology or a significant shift in what consumers expect from their vehicles.
TheDetroitBureau.com paid a visit to Seoul to test the new Sonata Hybrid – a review of which we’ll post in the coming weeks — the first gasoline-electric model targeting the U.S., but the second in the Hyundai line-up, which saw a smaller HEV launch in Korean showrooms last year.
“We are spending a fortune on hybrid development,” said Hyun-Soon Lee, the automaker’s vice chairman.