Hyundai Avante LPI Hybrid - Click for high-res image gallery
Hyundai will release its first hybrid vehicle for sale to the general public in 2009, as long as the general public in question lives in Korea. Though the automaker has been testing hybrids for the last few years, only government officials were able to drive the vehicles. According to Hyundai, though, none of the research and development costs for its hybrid drivetrain were paid for through government grants. This information seems much more important after Mark Fields' recent assertion that the
Hyundai will introduce an Avante Hybrid in its Korean home market in 2009. The Avante (known as the Elantra here in the US) will use an LPG/electric setup in order to take advantage of LPG's price advantage over gasoline (it's half the cost) and because Korea already has a workable LPG infrastructure in place. The automaker will follow up with a gasoline-electric hybrid by 2010. It's anticipated that the LPG/electric system will pay off with fuel economy between 44 and 47 mpg (US). Hyundai also
Just because Hyundai thinks that diesels are a better option than hybrids, it doesn't mean they aren't hedging their bets. In the car business as with others if you want to succeed you have to offer customers what they want to buy. That's why carmakers have been churning out as many different SUVs as possible for the past decade and a half. It's also why everyone is now developing hybrids.