Hyundai has U.S. Hybrid, Electric Vehicle in the Works

By dancurranjr On April 15th, 2009

2009-hyundai-blue-will-concept-at-the-2009-seoul-motor-showHyundai Motor Co. will launch its first hybrid vehicle in the United States late next year with a revamped version of the Sonata and said it is working on building an electric vehicle.

Hyundai’s U.S. president and CEO John Krafcik said the new hybrid would be unveiled at either the Los Angeles auto show later this year or the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January and go on sale in late 2010.

“We’re looking at urban electric vehicles as a possible solution,” Krafcik said on the sidelines of the New York International Auto Show. “I think the industry needs to learn about electric vehicles, and probably the best way to do that is go ahead and give it a try.”

Hyundai has electric-vehicle projects ongoing, Krafcik said, “either to do a dedicated electric vehicle or a dedicated vehicle with an onboard generator.” He said the vehicle would be a smaller vehicle.

Hyundai has a number of hybrids in other markets, including the Accent on sale in Korea and a hybrid Elantra in Europe. The new U.S. hybrid will have a lithium polymer battery.

Hyundai unveiled a concept Nuvis, which the company says will influence the next generation of the Santa Fe.

He also praised the company’s assurance program for boosting the company’s sales. Hyundai has promised to buy back vehicles from people who lose their jobs after they make at least two payments. Hyundai has yet to buy back any vehicles since the program was announced in January, but has received two inquiries, he said.

Hyundai has seen the number of buyers considering the Korean brand jump by 25 percent, and 60 percent of its customers were aware of the assurance program.

“It’s having a big impact on roughly 10 percent of people who end up buying,” Krafcik, adding that the group probably wouldn’t have purchased a Hyundai.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. recently started similar programs.

“The whole industry is going to benefit from GM and Ford doing Hyundai assurance-type programs because that’s going to get people off the sidelines, get them into showrooms,” Krafcik said.

He said the “reverse social stigma” of people buying luxury goods during an economic recession was benefiting Hyundai and its Genesis vehicle. Krafcik said Hyundai is even considering launching its own luxury brand based on the Genesis nameplate.

“Do you really want to go get an S class (Mercedes) or a 7-Series (BMW) while your employees are maybe suffering?” Krafcik said, adding that many new Hyundai customers are coming from premium brands and worried about being too ostentatious. “Less conspicuous consumption.”

SOURCE: Detroit News

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