Hyundai is determined to turn itself into a leader in the field of hybrid and electric vehicles, having already unveiled a number of production vehicles and concepts. One of these was the 2007 Hyundai i-Blue, a hydrogen powered, zero-emission concept powered by the automaker’s third generation fuel cell technology.

According to a new report, the production version of the i-Blue will go on sale in 2012. Being a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the production i-Blue will almost certainly be sold in limited numbers. In fact, global volumes are expected to be limited to just 500 to 1,000 units for the first two years, though this number could be pushed as high as 10,000 units by as early as 2015.

Hyundai is yet to reveal what segment its new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle will compete in, though a mini-MPV like the i-Blue concept is the most likely option. Hyundai is also planning to launch a plug-in hybrid vehicle sometime in 2012 as well.

To remain competitive, Hyundai has developed almost all of its technologies completely in-house, which should allow the automaker to keep its advanced models affordable. However, vehicles like the production i-Blue and upcoming plug-in hybrid are not aimed at generating profits but rather to draw in customers and promote Hyundai as a technological leader.

Of course, Hyundai is not alone in its efforts to promote vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells as a worthy alternative for future mobility. Honda has enjoyed mixed results with its FCX Clarity and next year Mercedes-Benz will roll out a test fleet of its hydrogen powered B-Class F-cell.

[AutoWeek]