Hyundai Sonata
Remember that South Korean automaker with a reputation for producing the cheapest econoboxes ever? These were the people who brought us the deplorable "Excel" in the early 90s . That was Hyundai then. This is Hyundai now. This is the company that channeled the Lexus RX with the midsized Veracruz SUV. This is the company that put Mercedes Benz and BMW on notice with the new budget conscious Genesis Luxury Sedan. Now they're saying they want to be the world's most fuel efficient automaker - and if they think they can do it, I believe them.

Their first step is a new line of "Blue" vehicles which are essentially existing models in Hyundai's lineup optimized for fuel efficiency. Hyundai plans to offer lower priced Accents and Elantras with modifications to aerodynamics, gearing and tires to improve fuel economy. Direct injection will also be utilized in new Hyundai models and by 2011, a hybrid Sonata will be released. The hybrid powertrain, called, "Blue Drive" is a smaller, lighter, parallel system which Hyundai believes will out perform the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

By 2013 Hyundai expects to have a plugin hybrid on the road, but whether it will be an adaptation of a current model or a completely new offering is unknown. One thing is certain: Hyundai will be a significant player in putting more fuel efficient vehicles on the road.

Source: Popular Mechanics, Image: Hyundai