Hyundai Hybrid May Hit Roads in 2nd Half of 2009

By dancurranjr On March 5th, 2009

hyundai_avante_blackKomoco Motors may unveil a hybrid version of one of its Hyundai models in the second half of 2009, making the Korean brand only the third to offer a petrol-electric car.

At present, only Toyota and Honda make hybrid cars. Honda has one model, the Civic Hybrid, while Toyota has the Prius and RX450h, GS450h and LS600h from its Lexus luxury division.

Hyundai is working on hybrid versions of its Sonata and Avante sedans, which are expected to hit the roads this year. Authorised distributor Komoco says it has not decided yet which one it will make available in Singapore.

But one thing is for sure – the sophisticated hybrid technology will make these variants more expensive than their conventional petrol-engine peers.

‘The ballpark open market value (OMV) will be about 10 per cent higher,’ says Komoco managing director Teo Hock Seng.

Hybrid cars have significantly improved fuel economy over conventional cars because their petrol engine is assisted by an electric motor.

The hybrid car’s kinetic energy, which is otherwise wasted during braking or decelerating, is recovered and converted into electrical energy and stored in a high-voltage battery.

This reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, making hybrids appear more environmentally friendly. In Singapore, hybrids are allowed a Green Vehicle Rebate that amounts to 40 per cent of OMV. Normal registration tax is 100 per cent of OMV.

Hyundai’s hybrid models are part of its Blue range of eco-friendly cars. A big difference between the Korean maker and its competitors in the field is the type of battery.

In the Avante Blue, for example, Hyundai plans to use a new lithium polymer battery that is said to be small, light and durable.

Toyota, on the other hand, continues to rely on its tried and tested nickel-metal hydride batteries.

The lithium alternative is also said to be advantageous because the polymer resembles a gel.

This means the battery can be moulded into other shapes for more optimum installation in the vehicle.

Hyundai says its biggest advantage is that it is a late-comer to the petrol-electric field – Toyota launched the Prius in 1997 in Japan. Hyundai says its engineers did not have to invent the parts required for a hybrid drive system, they only had to improve on them.

The Toyota Prius was the world’s first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid passenger car. In May 2007 the auto giant said it had sold more than one million hybrids.

Last week, Honda revealed that global sales of its hybrid vehicles reached 300,000 units at the end of January 2009, slightly over nine years since the introduction of the Insight in November 1999.

Source: AsiaOne Motoring

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