Can Hyundai Face Down Japan’s Hybrid Prius in Its Own Backyard?

By dancurranjr On May 23rd, 2009

hyundai_avante_blackMotorists will have a wider range of choices of eco-friendly vehicles after Japan’s top hybrid makers decided to market their products in competition with Hyundai-Kia models. With Toyota and Honda poised to release their versions, Hyundai-Kia’s first commercial production of more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly vehicles is also underway.

Toyota’s signature model, the Prius, will be available in Korea in October. The newest edition, which was released Monday in Japan, posted 75,000 sales orders even before its launch. Honda is also biding its time before introducing its hybrid, the New Insight, to Korean customers.

Hyundai-Kia Automotive plans to launch liquefied petroleum injection hybrid editions of its sedans, the Avante and the Forte, in July and September, respectively.

The Prius has a fuel efficiency of some 30 kilometers per liter, well ahead of the 17.2 kilometers of the Avante. That’s also linked to the reason Hyundai-Kia decided to go for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of gasoline in the development of hybrid models. Since LPG is cheaper than gasoline, low fuel costs can offset the disadvantage in fuel efficiency.

Hyundai-Kia is also currently working on a gas hybrid of the Sonata sedan. The launch of this new model is scheduled for later this year, before debuting in the U.S. market early next year. Backed by this advantage, prices will play the decisive factor for Japanese makers, industry watchers say.

If Toyota offers relatively reasonable prices, and the yen becomes cheaper against the won, prices of the Prius could come down to around 30 million won, according to industry sources. In Japan, the latest Prius model starts at 2.05 million yen. Avante and Forte hybrids, on the other hand, are expected to go for about 25 million won.

Experts say Japanese models could dominate the hybrid market if their prices are set below the 30 million won mark. The Japanese vehicles have already proved themselves over a decade-long history in global markets. Nearly 1.25 million Prius sedans have been sold worldwide since it was first launched in 1997.

“With the price set under 30 million won, the Prius could even make inroads into the Korean mid-sized sedan market, beyond the hybrid one,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo of Daelim College said. Still, it remains to be seen whether Toyota will introduce a cheaper or high-end edition here. In Japan, the highest-class Prius model is sold at over 40 million won.

Toyota Korea said the price policy for the vehicle is still flexible.

“Nothing has been confirmed about the price,” a Toyota official said. “For now, I can only say it will be decided at a level not too far ahead or behind those of our possible rivals in the market.” Hybrid vehicles are regarded as having the biggest potential for market expansion. Last year, a total of 496,000 were sold worldwide, growing over three times in four years from 163,000 in 2004.

Currently, Japanese makers take up more than 90 percent of the global market, with Toyota accounting for more than 80 percent.

SOURCE: Korea Times

Hyundai Preparing First Hybrid Able to Run on Liquid Petroleum Gas

By dancurranjr On April 10th, 2009

2009-hyundai-blue-will-concept-at-the-2009-seoul-motor-showThe South Korean carmaker Hyundai is prepping to introduce the first in the world hybrid vehicle powered by advanced lithium-polymer batteries and is able to run on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), but the carmaker is already having its sights on the next-generation of plug-in hybrid transports.

Hyundai, currently the fifth-largest carmaker in partnership with its Kia subsidiary, is making steps to make a product line that mirrors its position among the top auto manufacturers in the world. It was now confirmed by Yang Woong-chul, company president, that a production model of the Blue-Will plug-in hybrid concept will hit US markets near the end of 2010. Hyundai hopes to rival cars the likes of the Chevrolet Volt and the impending Prius plug-in hybrid by Toyota, aiming to become the leader of fuel economy and alternative fuels in the world. This is in line with a similar announcement made by Hyundai USA saying that the Blue-Will will be set to compete with Chevrolet and Toyota plug-ins as the sportier alternative.

SOURCE:  4 Wheels News

Hyundai to Build Hybrid Plug-In for 2012

By dancurranjr On April 9th, 2009

2009-hyundai-blue-will-concept-at-the-2009-seoul-motor-showHyundai plans to launch a Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius fighting plug-in hybrid in late 2012.

Hyundai has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years and intends to perform another spectacular jump with its intent to produce a plug-in hybrid for sale in 2012.  “We want to be the world leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels,” said Yang Woong-chul, president of Hyundai-Kia Motors’ research and development division.

The plug-in hybrid will be based on the four-door Blue-Will sports car concept now on display at the Seoul Auto Show.  The Blue-Will is powered by a 1.6-liter direct-injected gas engine and a 134-hp (100 kW) electric motor.  Hyundai developed its own lithium-ion battery for use in the vehicle.  “Almost every part on this car has been developed in-house,” said Yang.  “That will make it possible to make this vehicle affordable.”

According to Yang, the Blue-Will has an electric only range of around 38 miles- similar to the Volt’s electric only range of 40 miles.  In “plug-in” mode, Hyundai claims a fuel economy rating of 106 mpg and up to 55 mpg in hybrid-electric mode.  To aid recharging, the Blue-Will concept features a panoramic glass roof with solar cells.

It seems Hyundai is using the hybrid idea as another way to get people to notice the Korean brand.  “We want to show our technological image to get people to the dealerships to drive our cars,” Yang said.  “We are not necessarily trying to make money on hybrids.”

Yang would not estimate a price tag, but with the recent price war that has broken out between the Honda and Toyota hybrids and the Chevrolet Volt’s estimated $40,000 sticker, the price is anyone’s guess.  Yang did say however, that the hybrid technology is probably a Hyundai only thing and no Kia hybrid model is expected to appear.

SOURCE: Automobile

Kia Debuts Forte LPI Hybrid in Korea

By dancurranjr On March 30th, 2009

kia-forteTo meet the demand from consumers and the U.S. government, many of the automakers in America are hard at work on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles like the Chevy Volt. American automakers aren’t the only one working hard on hybrid vehicles and Kia has introduced its hybrid for the Korean market today.

The vehicle is called the Kia Forte LPI hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). The Forte LPI HEV uses a 1.6L direct injection engine that develops 114 horsepower and an electric motor that adds an additional 20 HP.

The car uses new LG Chem lithium polymer batteries, which are lighter and smaller than more common nickel-metal hydride batteries in most hybrid vehicles. Chevy’s Volt will also use the same type of batteries.

Kia says that the vehicle is capable of 17.2 kilometers per liter of LPG fuel, which is equivalent to 41 MPG in the U.S. according to Kia World. Other features of the car include redesigned front and rear bumpers to differentiate the Forte LPI hybrid form other Kia vehicles. The car also has LED taillights and a Super Vision instrument cluster for its hybrid power train along with a navigation system.

The car is expected to hit the Korean market in August and may be launched in other markets where there is an excellent LPG distribution system — namely China. The vehicle will not be coming to America, the standard Forte will be all American drivers can purchase.

SOURCE: Daily Tech