Korea Times reports that Hyundai will launch a new brand tentatively called AE — which may stand for “alternative energy.” The new brand will debut in January 2016 and will focus on hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fully electric cars, and even a fuel cell vehicle. “The first model of Hyundai’s new green car brand will be a hybrid, followed by plug-in hybrid and battery electric editions, aiming to become the world’s first green car with HEV, PHEV and EV types,” the newspaper said. “Such models are part of our vision, suggesting having 22 green cars in our lineup by 2020,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman says.
Hyundai believes that its new hybrid will outperform the Toyota Prius. The five-door hatchback will be equipped with a 1.6-liter Kappa gasoline direct injection engine, an electric motor, and a transmission tailored for hybrid operation. The internal combustion engine boasts 156 horsepower. Total power, with a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery and a 50-kilowatt electric motor, is 205 horsepower. Sister company Kia is also about to introduce its own Prius fighter, the DE sedan.
Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Chung Eui-sun said earlier this year that plug-in hybrids are the answer to the future survival of the company and the industry. The company is expected to offer a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Sonata sedan sometime in 2016. Prototypes began testing in September and have received positive reviews for their performance in both EV and hybrid modes.
Earlier this year, Hyundai and Kia announced they would be bringing eight new alternative fueled vehicles to market between 2016 and 2018, including four hybrids, two plug-in hybrids, one battery electric vehicle, and one fuel cell vehicle. “Of course it would be more eco-friendly if we could have the full electric vehicles because they emit no greenhouse gas at all. But given the situation that EVs are pricier and generally cannot run a long distance on a single charge, PHEVs are considered the optimal product in the Korean market at the moment,” an industry observers told Korea Times.
Hyundai and Kia seem committed to covering all the bases as the automotive market transitions to lower emissions and zero-emissions vehicles.