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Hyundai finally enters U.S. hybrid race

Apr 02,2010
Hyundai America President John Krafcik unveils the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid in New York Wednesday. [NEWSIS]
Hyundai Motor said yesterday that its first hybrid car to be sold in the United States later this year is more fuel efficient than conventional hybrid models sold by Toyota Motor and Ford Motor.

Korea’s top automaker plans to sell its first hybrid, based on the popular Sonata midsize sedan, in the U.S. this year, making a belated entry to the partly battery-powered auto market.

Unlike conventional gas-electric hybrid models, which use nickel-metal batteries, Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid uses lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used to power consumer gadgets such as mobile phones and laptop computers. Hyundai first introduced the model at the New York Auto Show earlier this week.

“The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the new kid on the block, but it’s not a follower,” said John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai’s U.S. unit, in a statement.

“Its full parallel hybrid configuration and breakthrough lithium polymer batteries offer a new take on traditional hybrid design, while its unique design sets it apart from the midsize hybrid pack,” Krafcik said.

The Sonata hybrid can run at 38 miles per gallon in city and highway driving, according to the statement.

“Hyundai’s approach to deliver class-leading fuel economy in highway mode provides a unique solution in the midsize sedan hybrid market, and differentiates Sonata Hybrid from the likes of Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid,” the statement read.

Still, analysts say Hyundai has a long way to go before its hybrids can catch up with Toyota and other Japanese rivals.

Hyundai began selling its first hybrid car, which uses liquefied petroleum gas and lithium ion polymer batteries, in South Korea last year. Sales of the Elantra LPi hybrid have remained sluggish, however, barely topping several dozen per month.


Yonhap



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