Word from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show is that there are dividing lines forming in the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group: Kia will focus solely on electric vehicles, while Hyundai will develop plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. This according to Yang Woong-chul, vice-president of the automotive group.

Under the new strategy, Kia will manufacture the group's first highway-capable electric vehicle with the codename "TAM." This vehicle is tentatively slated to launch by the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, Hyundai, with its fuel cell technological advantage, will continue to focus on refining its hydrogen-fueled Tuscon ix FCEV and reportedly is on track to debut a plug-in hybrid vehicle by the end of 2013.

What do you think about a split approach that will likely mean Hyundai will be without an electric vehicle during a time when virtually all automakers are readying EVs? The two companies could share technologies fairly easily if needed, but could the strategy backfire if Hyundai's commitment to fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles proves too intense?


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  • 18 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Criticism of hydrogen has largely focussed on the alleged inefficiency of production. Some of the latest research: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14976893 'Prof Logan said that the technology to utilise this process to produce hydrogen was called microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). "The breakthrough here is that we do not need to use an electrical power source anymore to provide a little energy into the system. Artistic representation of hydrogen molecules (Image: Science Photo Library) Hydrogen has long been hailed a transport fuel of the future but has yet to fulfil its potential "All we need to do is add some fresh water and some salt water and some membranes, and the electrical potential that is there can provide that power." The MECs use something called "reverse electrodialysis" (RED), which refers to the energy gathered from the difference in salinity, or salt content, between saltwater and freshwater. In their paper, Prof Logan and colleague Younggy Kim explained how an envisioned RED system would use alternating stacks of membranes that harvest this energy; the movement of charged atoms move from the saltwater to freshwater creates a small voltage that can be put to work.' Now this is very early stage research, and I would be the last to proclaim that it is 'the answer' but it does serve to illustrate that since we have used cheap fossil fuels no-one has got around to developing efficient hydrogen production or worried much about it. It is far too early for some of the absolutist claims that 'the only way is batteries'.
        Jason Allen
        • 3 Years Ago
        I don't see anyone saying that about batteries. They are the best right now for some people. Many new technologies seem to show hope for the future, fusion and helium3 and this new procedeure too. Something has to happen now though and the Model S as an example is just right for my needs. Batteries will work for a lot more people than most on this blog will admit. Plus in areas where electricity is produced most green-ly(?) todays BEV will have all the promised benifits. As for Hyundai and Kia I think this claim that they will go in different directions doesn't mean that if they have a breakthrough they'd keep it out of the other makers line-up. I'm just not sure if this information means anything really except for pub and to further shape each brand and differentiae them from one another; to say to the world that they do NOT intend to do the rebadging that helped ruin the big 3.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is consistent with the Hyundai / Kia marketing strategy: Kia = entry level / more affordable / no frills (so, if you are willing to accept the range limitations of the Leaf to save a few bucks, this is where Hyundai/Kia thinks you should shop) Hyundai = more upmarket, more capabilities, higher price tag (so if you are willing to spend a few more bucks to get the unlimited range of a Volt, this is where Hyundai/Kia thinks you should shop)
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        I agree, this seems like a reasonable distribution of engineering/production responsibilities, with a corresponding eye to what the market is willing to spend. Kia is entry, while Hyundai has been going steadily upmarket, already producing $35-50K luxury sedans which get excellent reviews. BEVs are simple to engineer and easy to build, while FCVs have a few more technical issues which require greater allocation of resources. In the long run (decades out), there's no doubt that there will be a sharing of tech - the platforms of BEVs and FCVs can be shared much more easily than EVs and ICEs.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        I like it because maybe they can bring the price of EV's down even further. Korea is really working on automotive lion batteries for EV's. Would be nice if they produced a simpler car than the Leaf for less but with more range than the Leaf, hope it is more like 150 miles range.
          Arun Murali
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Simpler than Leaf?? I thought the Leaf was the simplest electric car around.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can hyundai install an hydrogen fuel maker on his latest hydrogen fuelcell suv. That way no need for an hydrogen infrastructure.
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        So what powers the "hydrogen fuel maker"? If they use a chemical fuel, then why not use that chemical fuel directly at a much higher efficiency. If they use electricity, it would be better to store that electrical energy in a battery at 85% efficiency, rather than use electrolysis and fuel cell at just 30% efficiency.
          goodoldgorr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Quote'' If they use electricity, it would be better to store that electrical energy in a battery ''. The problem is that you cannot store a lot of electricity in a battery, the battery cost a lot and weight a lot and is inneficient cuz it has a very limited range and long long recharge time. That's why gm included on my recommendations a gasoline electric recharger for quick fill-up and unlimited range on the volt. People have rejected this kind of limited range vehicle and now battery are just there cuz of subsidies, it will end very soon, it was just political turmoil. battery are a complement to fuelcell and every fuelcell vehicle have some sort of battery but almost just to pair the impedance of the fuelcell system to the overall car needs in electricity. Fuelcell have been constructed well before the bov. they said that they rely for starter on batteries because they didn't constructed a start-up hydrogen infrastructure. Also battery contrary to fuelcell cannot power any trucks, trains and airplanes and ships.
      Chris M
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, Hyundai is tending towards the more expensive end, using Kia as their "bargain brand", so obviously they think H2FCVs and plug-in hybrids will be more expensive than BEVs. Of course, since the two divisions share technology development, if BEV sales take off, the Hyundai division would be able to develop and produce a more luxurious BEV relatively quickly.
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just PLEASE don't give us the BlueOn as the first Kia EV. It's a bit....well...."homely".
      Josh Lofty
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm glad Hyundai will focus on Hydrogen FC cars. That's the answer!! Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth, it's what we should be focusing on rather than electric cars that get energy off the grid which still causes pollution! I'm all for it!! ...& very excited by this blog. I hope Kia follows suit w/ a FC vehicle of their own.
        goodoldgorr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Josh Lofty
        Hi josh, you're right fuelcell hydrogen cars is the answer. Check for chriss m, he miscalculated a lot of things about hydrogen and he have a tendecy to mess-up everything about hydrogen fuelcell. He said and never retracted that an hydrogen fuelcell car cost at least $1 150 000 and that hydrogen is a pollutant.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          Hi gorr, glad to see that every day in every way, you're doing better and better. If I've made any errors in my facts and figures, please reference them if you can. I have yet to see you offer any valid figures or references, but there's always hope. As for the cost of Hydrogen fuel cell cars, that has been changing, the earliest prototypes were over a million dollars each, about 6 years ago they'd managed to bring the price down to a half million dollars each, more recently a quarter million. Some manufacturers hope to get the price down to just $50,000 in a few years, I'll believe that when I see it. H2 can be a pollutant, it doesn't occur ntaturally here on Earth, and it can be dangerous in large quantities. Being lighter than air, leaked H2 rises until it reaches the ozone layer, where it reacts with O3 to produce O2 and H2O, thereby depleting the ozone layer. It has not yet been determined how much H2 leakage the ozone layer can tolerate, but it is a legitimate cause for concern.
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Josh Lofty
        I hate to break it to you, Josh, but electrons are far more abundant than Hydrogen, they're found in substances that have no hydrogen, and they're even found in hydrogen itself! But hydrogen isn't found by itself here on Earth, its always chemically bound to something else, and breaking those bonds to get the pure hydrogen takes lots of energy, either chemical energy or electrical energy. Moving electrons around also takes energy, but tends to be much more efficient, and the "fuel" costs of driving a BEV is much lower than the fuel cost of driving the equivalent H2FCV.
          goodoldgorr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Quote'' "fuel" costs of driving a BEV is much lower than the fuel cost of driving the equivalent H2FCV. '' Sorry you must have miscalculated something along the way. If you put a certain quantity of electricity in a battery till it top-up you have a charge. If you put the same quantity of electricity in doing hydrogen you not just put that electricity but you put this electricity plus a certain quantity of matter(hydrogen) that come from water. So it's electricity plus matter that do a charge versus electricity alone. So it's strait electricity versus a system of electricity plus matter. Electricity plus matter is bigger then just that electricity alone in a costly weighty problematic battery. Also if you do hydrogen from electricity you can use that machine 24/24 and stock hydrogen contrary to battery that you have to stop it when the battery is fully charge, not a good way to use solar or windmills or night electricity.
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      For the automotive group, as an entity, it does not make a difference if Hyundai does not offer an electric vehicle; they are re-orienting the brands and that is good in the way that organizes their market and targets.
      Eideard
      • 3 Years Ago
      Living in a state capitol where I've been promised a chance at an electric Ford Focus by 2013 - maybe - I hope Kia swings into producion quickly enough to allow an alternative. Sooner.
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