2011 Hyundai Sonata HybridEnlarge Photo
Hyundai Motor Group, the company in charge of both Hyundai and Kia, has announced heavy investment into hybrid and electric technology this year.
AsiaOne Business has revealed that the group intends to invest $15.5 billion into facilities, and research and development. Two thirds of this will go towards improving facilities, and a significant proportion of the R&D budget will be focused on the development of hybrids and electric cars.
Hyundai Motor will be in charge of future plug-in hybrid and fuel cell development, and Kia will handle "electric drive vehicles", a term broadly encompassing any drivetrain that uses an electric motor for propulsion.
The investment is good news for hybrid and EV buyers, as Kia and Hyundai are known for their value for money. The group has the potential to bring down the price of hybrid and electric motoring, just as the good value Hyundai Sonata hybrid and Kia Optima hybrid have done in the mid-size hybrid market. Both undercut competitors like the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid
Kia has already released an all-electric vehicle in its native Korea, the Kia Ray. Based on a regular gasoline car, the Ray is a tall, narrow city car with an 86-mile range. Kia also previewed the funky electric Pop concept car at 2010's Paris Motor Show.
Hyundai-Kia's ultimate goal is to overtake Toyota Motor in sales of hybrid sedans in the U.S. - not an unrealistic target.
With Toyota expanding its Prius line and the Korean carmakers pledging high investment in the technology, the extra choice and increased competition can only be a good thing for green-conscious buyers.