Hyundai and Kia move upmarket and get ready to go green

Hyundai is getting ready to launch its $30,000 Genesis next year, while Kia is preparing for the Frankfurt Auto Show with the unveiling of its 2+2 sports coupe. Both Korean auto makers have also invested $58 Million in a green research center. We think it’s about time we give these guys some credit.

Hyundai, who is aiming at the upper-luxury segment, has the Veracruz SUV already on the market. With a sticker price of just over $37,000 for a fully loaded version, the SUV is aimed at the Lexus RS. Since its debut in April, Hyundai has sold over 1,900 units of the Veracruz when it only expected to sell around 1,400.

On the other hand Hyundai’s sibling Kia, with the help of ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer, is moving into the sporty ‘cool’ segment. As Kia gets read for Frankfurt, speculators are saying the car may even be aimed at the Audi R8.

“Kias don’t stand out when you see them approaching you on the road,” Schreyer says. “I want to give Kia more character.”

Hyundai and Kia aren’t just giving their cars character and heftier price tag; both are going to get greener as well. In the long run, Hyundai and Kia are expected to add diesels and fuel cells to their powertrain lineups.

Currently, Hyundai’s Veracruz SUV carries a 3.0 liter V6 diesel engine that produces 240 horsepower. We wouldn’t be surprised if that engine found its way into the Genesis later down the road. Hyundai says the engine should be available in the US in 2009 or 2010.

According to sources, currently in discussion is a hybrid Accent for 2010. The Kia Rio could also go hybrid the same year.


Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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