Hyundai is working on a new hybrid-only model to directly compete against the Toyota Prius. �SWe are studying a dedicated Prius-fighter vehicle, meaning a hybrid-specific nameplate that isn�"t based off a Sonata or a Santa Fe,⬝ Miles Johnson, Hyundai product public relations manager, told HybridCars.com. �SIt�"s its own thing.⬝
While Johnson did not confirm a specific production date, he placed the new hybrid-only model ahead of the Hyundai Blue Will plug-in hybrid concept. �SWe�"ve also been studying plug-in hybrid technology, which is a bit farther out for us. But the near-term would be a Prius-sized vehicle,⬝ Johnson said. �SYou can look at the dimensions of the Blue Will concept and see it would be a similar package and size to a Prius.⬝
Automotive News last year reported that the four-door Blue Will will launch in the United States in late 2012, according to Yang Woong-Chul, president of Hyundai-Kia Motors�" R&D division. Although the date for the Blue Will plug-in hybrid could easily slip into 2013 or later, the implication is that a new Hyundai hybrid-only model could go into production in the next two years.
Moving Target for Green Top Spot
�SA hybrid vehicle usually takes double the time of a standard production car, and a plug-in even more than that,⬝ Johnson said. �SThink about how long GM has been spending on the Chevy Volt. It doesn�"t happen overnight, but we�"ve got some good partners with LG Chem on the batteries.⬝ Johnson downplayed the reality of the Blue Will plug-in hybrid as �Sjust a concept car,⬝ but pointed to a Hyundai �SPrius-fighter⬝ as more immediate and real. �SWe have a lot of engineers working quietly behind the scenes. We�"re really moving as fast as we can.⬝ Both projects are being developed at Hyundai�"s Namyang design center in South Korea.
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