2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 LimitedEnlarge Photo
It's been a quiet period for hybrid news lately, with the 2016 Toyota Prius launch delayed and still more than a year away.
But further down the road, it appears that both Hyundai and Ford now plan to offer dedicated hybrids--vehicles designed specifically around a hybrid powertrain that offer no gasoline-only version.
That's been the model followed by Toyota for the Prius since 1997.
But aside from the now-defunct Honda Insight, there have been no other volume cars designed solely as hybrids.
2015 Toyota Prius LiftbackEnlarge Photo
That will apparently change in 2016 and beyond.
The advantage of a dedicated hybrid is clear: Every aspect of the car can be optimized for efficiency, rather than having to adapt the electric motor(s), battery pack, and associated electronics into an existing car designed largely for gasoline engines.
Dedicated Hyundai hybrid soon
Hyundai is planning a dedicated hybrid, possibly a family of them, for launch in 2016 or later, according to a report last week.
Separately, another report indicates that Ford is now planning to offer its own dedicated hybrid as a 2019 model as well.
ALSO SEE: 2010 Detroit Auto Show: Hyundai Blue-Will Plug-In Hybrid Concept (Jan 2010)
The Hyundai hybrid may well be the current incarnation of its Blue-Will plug-in hybrid concept, first shown back in 2009 and 2010.
The spy shots of Hyundai hybrid development mules published by Autoblog don't show a plug, so it seems likely Hyundai will first launch a conventional hybrid model before extending the new range to include a plug-in variant.
The first model of the new Hyundai hybrid could be introduced as early as next year, making it a 2016 model.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, April 2013Enlarge Photo
The Korean maker has not offered a hybrid version of its redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata mid-size sedan. Instead, the 2015 Sonata Hybrid is a carryover model using the body of the previous-generation car.
Family of Hyundai hybrids?
Whether Hyundai would launch the dedicated hybrid while maintaining a Sonata Hybrid model in the new-generation car is unclear. That's the path followed by Toyota--which offers both the Prius and a Camry Hybrid sedan.
Hyundai is far less established in the hybrid market, however, and may choose to focus its near-term efforts on the dedicated hybrid--which may, like the Prius, become a family of hybrid vehicles over time.
Based on the Blue-Will concept car, there is undoubtedly a plug-in hybrid model to come. At this point, it's clear that pretty much every major global automaker will offer at least some plug-in hybrids for sale by 2020--though volumes remain highly debatable.
Autoblog's report also notes that the development mules came in two different lengths, perhaps indicating not only a competitor for the well-known Prius Liftback, but also one for the Prius V wagon.