2009 Hyundai Sonata
In comparison to both American and Asian automakers, Hyundai is getting a late start in developing hybrid and electric vehicles. However, the Korean automaker has promised to put a hybrid subcompact, a hybrid mid-size and a plug-in competitor to the Chevrolet Volt on the road within five years. As a whole Korean automakers are spending approximately $1 billion on the battery technology needed to power such vehicles and the government has contributed another $40 million. The historically inexpensive car manufacturer’s entry into these types of automobiles is another good sign for those with the will, but not necessarilly the cash, to buy electric vehicles.
Hyundai has announced that the new lithium-ion battery Sonata hybrid will make its debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November and could be on the road by 2010. Producing the first lithium-ion hybrid would be a major acheivement for Hyundai and Korean battery manufacturer LG. Nissan, is also developing lithium-ion batteries and likewise hopes to be the first to introduced a hybrid with tis new technology. Indications are also being made by Hyundai Execs. that the new Sonata hybrid will be made in America. By 2013 the company hopes to put a plug-in hybrid on the road.
In other Hyundai news, the rear-wheel-drive Genesis will be joined in 2010 by a two-door coupe named…..the Genesis Coupe. How original. It will at least temporarily replace the current front-wheel-drive Tiburon coupe and be powered by either a V-6 or turbocharged 4 cylinder engine but only in America. Europeans will have a different coupe, the Veloster. Hyundai is undecided if the company needs two coupes instead of one, and will only bring the Veloster to the U.S. if the Genesis coupe flops.
Still up in the air are decisions related to the i10, (which is sold in Europe and Asia), a compact hatchback and potential competitor to the Smart ForTwo, although with enough room for a second row of seating. Since it doesn’t currently meet U.S. safety or emissions standards, the i10 would need to reengineered in those areas to be sold in North America.