Hyundai and its corporate cousin Kia are planning to launch a pair of plug-in hybrid cars according to the Korean Car Blog, fueling rumors that a new Prius fighter is coming from the brand. Is it finally happening?
The evidence is flimsy, but it’s there according to the KBC, which quotes Hyundai R&D vice chairman Yang Woong-Chul as saying;
“We will roll out a plug-in hybrid model of Sonata and K5 next year. Since we will use locally made engines, inverters and batteries, we expect them to have strong price competitiveness.”
So far though that’s all we’ve got aside from a few other scattered mentions of a potential plug-in hybrid. Back in 2009 the Hyundai Blue-Will concept was the company’s first entry into the hybrid car market, and in 2010 came the Sonata Hybrid (for the 2011 model year). Since then though the only other electrified vehicle has been the Kia Soul EV, a car with limited availability and appeal at the moment.
A plug-in hybrid, however, is both cheaper and more versatile than your run-of-the-mill EV, and Hyundai/Kia already struck a battery deal with fellow South Korean company SK Innovation. While Hyundai is late to the game, they’ve become a force to reckon with in the automotive world and have given other carmakers something to look out for. A lower cost plug-in hybrid could shake things up if priced right.
However, Hyundai has expressed a keen interest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over EVs as a replacement for gasoline, which could be fueling their trepidation when it comes to plug-in vehicles. With the brand split over which way to go, can it deliver the kind of plug-in car it needs to be competitive in a growing marketplace?