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PHOTO CAPTION: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Hybrid Easily Adopted to Plug-In Technology

Product Planning head says announcement coming soon of an electric hybrid akin to Chevy Volt.

Published: 18-Jan-2011

Although Hyundai's recent strategy has been more focused on making the highest mileage non-plug-in vehicles they can—from the 2011 Sonata Hybrid to an upcoming Hyundai "Prius-killer"—that doesn't mean electric cars are out for the brand. In fact, according to Mike O'Brien, Hyundai's Head of Product Planning, we can expect an announcement very soon regarding the introduction of Hyundai's first mass-market plug-in vehicle.

"Our technology development in hybrids was specifically to address the issue of future plug-in deployment," O'Brien said to PluginCars.com on the sidelines of the Detroit Auto Show last week. "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."

According to O'Brien, the reason Hyundai has been late to the plug-in game isn't so much for a lack of technology, but because of market strategy. "Like other manufacturers we have an active EV program with demonstration vehicles in service in Seoul, South Korea, and there will be more elsewhere," he said. "We have a lot of active R&D work going on in plug-ins, the question is value in terms of timing of release. We want our product to be worthy on its own merit independent of incentives."

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