Hyundai is no stranger to the hybrid game, selling a gas-electric version of the Sonata in the US since 2011. The 2015-model-year version gets 38 miles per gallon combined, which is certainly admirable but not quite in the same league as the hybrid champion Toyota Prius (50 mpg combined). New spy shots reveal that Hyundai might be finally ready to targeting the non-plug-in fuel economy leader. Why else would some mysterious Hyundai prototypes be cruising through the desert hills with a few Priuses in tow?

Our photographers believe these mules hint at an all-new hybrid model, which makes us think of the Blue Will concept from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Hyundai said the concept could be a preview of a future dedicated hybrid that would compete with the Prius.

We don't know what it all means for sure, but our spy photographers found four heavily modified Elantra GT prototypes driving around with a standard Prius and a Prius V. As if that wasn't enough of a clue, the four changed Elantras represent different approaches Hyundai might be using to go after Toyota, since there were two versions driving by our photographer's lenses, with different rear extensions indicating that both the standard Prius and the larger V might be in Hyundai's sights.

Despite the inclusion of a battery pack and a high-voltage cable running under the car, there was no obvious sign of a plug, so the old rumors of a Sonata PHEV will likely remain in the dustbin for now. Unless that strange rectangle of tape on the gas cover is hiding something surprising, of course.


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  • 26 Comments
      mikeybyte1
      • 4 Months Ago

      Odd comment that the Sonata Hybrid MPG doesn't compete with the Prius. It shouldn't. It should compete with the Camry Hybrid since they are both mid-sized sedans, retrofitted to carry hybrid tech - with all of the compromises that come with that approach. Prius is optimized in weight, size and aerodynamics to be a built from the ground up hybrid with no loss in usability inside. It is also, unfortunately, a bore to drive. I am really surprised nobody has tried to challenge Toyota with a dedicated hybrid platform. The Volt ended up a 4 seater due to squeezing the battery into the Cruze platform. The C-Max has similar issues with a heavily compromised cargo bay. If Hyundai can build a platform that is light weight and the batteries do not eat up room, AND it is actually fun to drive and gets real world MPG close to Prius they could have a winner.

        The Wasp
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @mikeybyte1

        For what it's worth, there was the Honda Insight.

          Levine Levine
          • 4 Months Ago
          @The Wasp

          Honda Insight has the inferior IMA powertrain, which has no pure EV mode and therefore, does not put the car in the same league as the Prius' Synergy. As for your  "For what it's worth," the Insight is worthless  junk.

        futurecars
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @mikeybyte1

        I agree no one challenge toyota, except for honda, making a plaform for hybrid is not cheap,but that does not mean car companies did not have a dedicated hybrid system, before toyota and honda, nissan was planning and preview a dedicated in house hybrid which was simpler and not as advance but cut fuel use by half, but seen it as a waste of time as they thought they could not earn a profit, So they made a few and sell them on first come basis.Altima is not nissan first hybrid as some articles want you to believe, it is their first mass produce.

        http://www.nissan-global.com/GCC/Japan/NEWS/20000323_0e.html

        Also subaru preview a hybrid it was similar to nissan own, because the two share R&D when it comes to CVT

        Hyundai also had hybrid system.

        Now if toyota have a system before the other car makers, paice LLC could not have sued them, because piace llc patent their hybrid system in 1994, nissan hybrid sytem was shown in 1993-1994 and hyundai in 1995.Paice sued toyota in 2003 and they sued hyundai and ford in 2004.

          futurecars
          • 4 Months Ago
          @futurecars

          yeah and to those who will say subaru have nothing to do with Jatco.

          http://www.jatco.co.jp/ENGLISH/NEWS/2006/060929E.html

        Ryan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1

        I've always felt that nobody wanted to compete with Toyota because Toyota lost money on the Prius for years until the R&D costs were made up by sales. Other automakers simply took existing cars and did the hybrid conversion as a money saving method. 

      Master Austin
      • 4 Months Ago

      I get they would like to do a Prius fighter, but do they need to copy what it looks like too?

        Awhattup
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Master Austin

        It doesn't look anything like the Prius... maybe the color?

          Larry Litmanen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Awhattup

          Does look a lot like Prius C or whatever it is called, the smaller Prius.

          0815
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Awhattup

          looks very much like a prius. Honestly, when I saw the picture first without reading the headline, might thought was: "wow, they didn't change the Prius much for 2015" ....

          relly lame, Hyundai has such a good design otherwise, too bad they feel the need to copy the ugly prius look  (don't get me wrong, I like the Prius, had it for many years, but I never liked the design)


        EVnerdGene
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Master Austin

        You're right.  I thought it was the Prius C

      SKINNYwithNOfood
      • 4 Months Ago

      No "prius fighter" can dethrone the Prius and no "3 series fighter" can dethrone the 3 series. 

      Larry Litmanen
      • 4 Months Ago

      I own a Sonata and really like Hyundai, but i am sorry, i would not even consider looking at Hyundai's MPGs. Until Consumer Reports tests the car and provides real world MPG all numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.


      Hyundai has been caught more than once fudging up their MPG numbers. 

        Awhattup
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        Almost every car doesn't match their posted MPGs... especially if you live in a city. 

          superchan7
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Awhattup

          I've had a Lexus, a Fiat and a Mercedes-Benz that outperformed their MPG ratings, a Honda that matched its ratings and a Porsche that couldn't meet its ratings even when driven lightly.  These ratings are not based on real-world testing and that needs to change.

        F150Soul
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Larry Litmanen

        Your problem is using CR for information.  Clearly they are biased.

          Larry Litmanen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @F150Soul

          Biased towards what?


          Out of pure curiosity, did you graduate from High School?

      JB
      • 4 Months Ago

      I have been hoping for a while that there would be a good Prius fighter.  When the Ford C-Max came out, I was happy, but when I saw the specs on its bloated weight and size, I knew it could not compete on MPG.

      Justin
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is obviously a test mule in the photo as noted (for all of the comments about its looks) but I really hope they move on from their current design language. Fluidic 2.0 can't trickle down fast enough. 

      futurecars
      • 4 Months Ago

      That is nice, great news,  chrysler (will be new on the block) and  nissan  said they are doing (more) hybrids, whether the hyundai beats the prius or not it maybe cheaper to purchase, consumers still wins.

      foxtrot685
      • 4 Months Ago

      "Hyundai is no stranger to the hybrid game, selling a gas-electric version of the Sonata in the US since 2011. "

      Aaaaaaaaaaand Toyota has a 14 year jump on the Sonata. The Prius has been in production since 1997.

      I'm anticipating any Prius fighter that Hyundai/Kia builds to follow the Hyundai/Kia motto... over promise, under deliver. At least it will look good... 

        futurecars
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @foxtrot685

        hyundai has been in the hybrid game longer than 2011,  2011 in usa, but they have been around longer than that selling it in south korea. hyundai first system was very similar to nissan one clutch two motor , using a  CVT. I am not saying it is better , but saying they have been around longer than you think.

        "Hyundai developed its first hybrid-electric vehicle in 1995 when it unveiled the Future Green Vehicle at the Seoul Motor Show. In 1999, it showed an Elantra HEV, and in 2000 it showed an Accent HEV, both of which featured hard-type parallel electric drive systems and integrated starter/generator technology. However, those vehicles did not go into mass production."

        http://articles.sae.org/6273/

        As I say in a previous article several car companies preview dedicated hybrid before toyota, like nissan but they never went in to mass production.

        now paice llc system came out and patent in 1994, if toyota have a system before paice llc they could not have sued them, there is the proof that hyundai showed one before toyota.

        Paice sued toyota in 2003 and hyundai and ford in 2004 for infringing on their patent.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-13/toyota-luxalpha-madoff-viacom-tetragon-financial-ebay-in-court-news.html

      GMan
      • 4 Months Ago

      Good job Hyundai, doesn't look like you copied the Prius at all.

      Piyo
      • 2 Months Ago

      This thing looks like a cross-breed between Focus and Prius...

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