Earlier this week when Hyundai America product development VP John Krafcik revealed that the company would unveil a hybrid version of the Sonata
at the LA Auto Show, some of the PR people in the room seemed to be caught by surprise. Now the Chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Auto group, Mong-Koo Chung has confirmed that and more. Over on the Kia Buzz
blog, the chairman has affirmed production of a hybrid version of the Elantra in Korea in 2009 followed by a mid-size hybrid (namely the Sonata) in 2010. Mong seems to think that more environmentally-friendly cars actually make business sense judging from this comment "low-carbon, environmentally friendly cars represent a high value-added industry of the future that will promote sustainable growth." The ability to offer more efficient, less polluting vehicles are expected to actually be a selling point as fuel prices and environmental concerns increase.
Going beyond the hybrids, Hyundai and Kia intend to continue pushing forward with fuel cell technology as well. The group wants to commercialize hydrogen vehicles beyond the 66 vehicles they have running in the field today. The company plans to expand the field test fleet to 500 vehicles by 2010 and begin series production in 2012. Mong hasn't indicated where the company plans to sell these vehicles and how customers will get fuel.
[Source: Kia Buzz