Hyundai Motor has set a target for Sonata Hybrid sales in South Korea this year to reach at least 11,000 units. Hyundai anticipates that its first gasoline-electric hybrid model will generate high sales as increasing fuel prices drive up the demand for fuel-efficient cars. On the other hand, rival Toyota faces the challenge of scarce supplies of models like the Prius hybrid after production was disrupted by the March 11 earthquake.
Ko Tae-bong, an analyst at IBK Securities, said that the Sonata Hybrid’s launch timing is “appropriate” as other compact efficient models are in short supply.
He added that Hyundai is “catching up quickly” in the fiercely competitive hybrid market. In the past few years, Hyundai has had rapid growth but it has been slow in entering the electric car market and has instead put its focus on fuel-efficient gasoline models.
Hyundai launched the Sonata’s hybrid version in South Korea earlier this month. It plans to launch it in the U.S. this January. Sean Kim, senior vice president and head of Hyundai's domestic marketing group, said that the company seeks to sell over 11,000 Sonata Hybrids this year and 18,000 units annually in South Korea.
While environmental and fuel economy standards are becoming more stringent, Toyota’s rivals have launched new technologies like battery electric cars and "range extenders,” including GM’s Chevrolet Volt.
Hyundai will be producing a plug-in hybrid to rival Toyota's Prius in 2013. Last year, Hyundai introduced the BlueOn, its first full-electric model, but it’s only for government use. In December 2011, affiliate Kia Motors will roll out its first pure-electric vehicle that was based on upcoming cross utility vehicles.
With an estimated class-leading highway fuel economy of 39 mpg, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid offers considerable benefit for highway commuters looking for their next car. With an excellent city fuel economy of 37 mpg, government studies indicate that a typical U.S. driver spends 57 percent of their time on a highway. Bearing this in mind, Hyundai aims to deliver a unique solution and provide world class fuel economy in the mid-size sedan hybrid market.
Confidently differentiating itself from the likes of the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers typical fuel economy gains in the city, much like its competitors, but it also gives owners that impressive fuel economy on the highway their customers deserve and one which their competitors cannot match.
Delivering class-leading electric-vehicle operation at steady-state speeds of up to 62 mph, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid's gasoline engine engagement system is dependent on factors like charge, acceleration and vehicle speed. The two propulsion units generate a total output of 209 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, which surpasses all the other mid-size competitors, and 195 lb-ft of torque.
The new Sonata's weight-efficient platform design combined with the lightweight lithium polymer battery pack, make the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid the lightest vehicle in the segment, at only 3,457 pounds, which makes it lighter than the Fusion Hybrid by 263 pounds. Its light weight, when combined with the Sonata's best-in-class horsepower rating, gives the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid a big advantage in power-to-weight ratio, which raises performance and efficiency.
The proprietary parallel hybrid drive system comprises the core of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Whilst its rivals use a power split system with a planetary-geared Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as part of their electric motors, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid utilizes the full parallel drive system. This is a system that drives the power from the electric motor more efficiently to directly control the vehicle, permitting it to be run at much higher speeds than others in the segment in EV-only mode.