Hyundai’s recent strategy has been tackling the hybrid market with the introduction of the Sonata Hybrid sedan along with sister brand Kia introducing the Optima Hybrid. However, is Hyundai ever going to compete with the likes of the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt and the upcoming Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid? Short answer is… yes.
According to Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s Head of Product Planning, an announcement regarding Hyundai’s first mass-market plug-in hybrid vehicle is due very soon.
“Our technology development in hybrids was specifically to address the issue of future plug-in deployment,” O’Brien said to PluginCars.com at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. “Other manufacturers’ hybrid systems were developed in such a way to not allow them to easily develop plug-in hybrids. For the Sonata Hybrid to become a plug-in hybrid, really all we need are bigger batteries—the basic technology platform is already designed to support a plug-in variation.”
O’Brien said that Hyundai currently has an active EV program with demo fleets running around in Seoul, South Korea.
Refresher: The 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is powered by a 2.4L Theta II engine making 169-hp at 6,000 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. The engine is mated to an electric motor that makes an additional 40.2-hp and 151.2 lb-ft of torque. Working together side-by-side, both units develop a total of 209-hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can also operate in EV-only mode at speeds of up to 62 mph. Fuel-economy is rated at 35/40 mpg (city/highway). Prices start at $25,795.
– By: Zain Haq