Hyundai Plans Electric Car to Meet Emission Standards (Update1) Bloomberg

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Hyundai Electric Cars

Hyundai Plans Electric Car to Meet Emission Standards (Update1)

By Alan Ohnsman and Seonjin Cha — March 25, 2009 02:47 EDT


March 25 (Bloomberg) — Hyundai Motor Co.. South Korea’s largest automaker, is developing an electric vehicle for urban commuters as governments tighten pollution rules and rival carmakers unveil new battery-powered and hybrid models.

The rechargeable model will have a driving range of about 40 miles (62 kilometers), said Vice Chairman Lee Hyun Soon. research chief for Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. He declined to say when the battery car will go on sale.

Hyundai follows Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. in designing cars powered wholly or in part by electricity to cut carbon emissions and oil dependence. Toyota will test a new plug-in version of its Prius hybrid this year and Nissan Motor Co. is to sell an electric car next year in the U.S. and Europe.

“We cannot eliminate any technology. We have to keep them all,” Lee said in a March 23 interview in Hwaseong, near Seoul. “If your commuting distance is short, maybe you can justify using an electric vehicle.”

Hyundai and Kia will sell their first hybrids in South Korea this year, followed by a version of Hyundai’s Sonata sedan with a gasoline-electric system in 2010. Kia displayed its Forte LPI small sedan, the world’s first hybrid-liquefied petroleum gas car yesterday in Seoul. The vehicle will be sold initially only in South Korea, spokesman Michael Choo said.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. who won election in December 2007 on a pledge of economic expansion, has urged domestic carmakers to develop less-polluting vehicles to boost growth for Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.

Batteries

The Hyundai and Kia hybrids, as well as the planned Hyundai electric vehicle, will use lithium batteries from LG Chem Ltd.. Vice Chairman Lee said. LG Chem, South Korea’s largest chemical maker, is also supplying lithium-ion batteries for GM’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which goes on sale next year.

Hyundai and Kia plan to build 40,000 units of LPG-powered hybrid Fortes and Avantes in 2009, Lee Ki Sang. vice president of hybrid vehicle development for the two companies, told reporters yesterday in Seoul.

The affiliated carmakers are also designing hydrogen fuel-cell models, which Hyundai intends to retail in 2012, followed by Kia in 2013. Even the most advanced batteries offer limited performance compared with gasoline vehicles, Hyundai’s Lee said.

“Technology-wise, hydrogen is more practical, more flexible,” he said.

Hyundai Motor, which gained 34 percent this year compared with key Kospi index’s 9.3 percent rise, dropped 2 percent to 52,800 won in Korea Exchange trading.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bret Okeson at bokeson@bloomberg.net

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