Hyundai Plans to Sell 500,000 Hybrids Annually

Hyundai hasn’t yet put a hybrid car on the market, but the company sure is throwing around some big numbers for its hybrid program. Let’s start with 38 miles to the gallon. According to Hyundai, that’s the mileage expected from the hybrid version of the Santa Fe small SUV, on display this week at the Paris Motor Show.

The company claims that the concept hybrid SUV will reach 38 mpg by virtue of its 2.4-liter gas engine, 40-horsepower electric motor and 270-volt lithium battery pack. The unveiling of the Santa Fe “Blue” Hybrid—no word on actual production—gives further evidence to Hyundai’s serious intentions about hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles.

Hyundai is using the term “blue” to designate an emphasis on aerodynamics, efficiency, and low weight. The “blue” strategy is employed in the Hyundai i20 concept minicar—also on display in Paris—which could break 60-mpg, according to the company. The i20 combines a diesel engine and micro-hybrid “stop-start” technology to greatly reduce burning petroleum when the vehicle comes to a stop. (By the way, Mercedes and Volkswagen are also using “blue” to mean “green” in their marketing efforts.)

Perhaps the biggest number recently offered up by Hyundai is 500,000. That’s its target for annual hybrid sales by 2018, according to Brandon Yea, senior vice president for marketing. To reach that goal, Hyundai will need to move very fast. The company’s first gas-electric vehicle, the mid-size Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, doesn’t goes on sale until 2010.

Hyundai i20 Blue

Hyundai i20 Blue Diesel-Hybrid Minicar

Speaking of big numbers, Hyundai research and development chief Lee Hyun-soon told Automotive News that lithium batteries (from Korean battery-maker, LG Chem) could boost mileage of the hybrid Sonata by as much as 70 percent over the non-hybrid version. That would lift efficiency beyond 50 mpg. Earlier this year, a Hyundai spokesperson, speaking to, put the increase at “20 to 25 percent.”

Lithium ion batteries are still more expensive than current hybrid battery technology, but Hyundai is promising to keep the costs well below the competition. “We’ll bring down the premium charged for hybrids,” said David Zuchowski, vice president of sales for Hyundai Motor’s North American division.

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  • JH


    The more the merrier – lets push hybrid and electric technology with as many companies as possible!!

    NOW – as with the Volt – I will believe these when I see them….

    Everyone go –

  • Samie

    Agree with Zuchowski about the flat economy but it’s interesting they have trouble like many others producing small cars right now. You would think that a company like Hyundai would do anything they could to try to gain more market share in the U.S, especially at a time like this. As for the Sonata hybrid lots of claims about MPG are out but surely if it gets here it would be a great addition to the small but growing hybrid SUV market. It’s a shame that they blew many great chances at having hybrids already in the U.S. Imagine fitting a Kia w/ a full hybrid system laugh if you want but sometimes these 2nd tier companies need to take the lead instead of following the mistakes of those at the top.

  • JH

    Hey, I can say big numbers too. I think Hyundai will have 1,000,000 hybrids out by the end of 2009. I heard rumors that they are already built and pre-ordered by wealthy US citizens. No one in other countries will buy the 2009 Hyundai hybrid because their mpg already surpass it. Did you know that the new hybrid will cost just $5,000 and that when you buy two you get one free? Congress is also giving buyers a $9,500 credit, so you’ll actually make money!

    Anyone else have some ridiculous numbers and speculation they want to throw out for fun? It turns out I have hybrids in production too, and I hope to surpass Prius sales even though mine cost $644506983.

  • Picky McPicky

    I have a Hyundai Accent and it gets 36 mpg and they are touting a car that will get 38mph? Why not give the people that want cheap cars that get great gas mileage, cheaper cars that get outstanding gas mileage? Why, because Joe McJerkin at the Hyundai dealership in Paducah KY, realizes that he makes more money on the big ticket items. A 10% commision on a $30,000 is $3,000. A 10% commission on a $15,000 is only $1,500. I get it. It’s not about what we want. It’s about what they want and what they say we want. And some poor spineless consumer will walk into a dealership and get all tingly when Mcjerkyboy tells him how good he looks in that brand new oversized, overpriced car that they can qualify him for for no money down and payments of only $499 per month. Haven’t we learned our lesson fom the mortgage debacle?

  • Bryce

    The more the merrier. Bring on more competition and all us consumers will win. : )



  • Anon Imus

    I’m pretty sure that Who Hoo is a Senior VP at Hyundai, so JH, you’ve actually added even more credibility to the story!

  • The First JH

    What are you saying the second JH?? Why are you ripping off my name?

  • The second JH

    To the First JH- sorry about that, I was just using my initials.

  • Shines

    Well I hope Hyundai can deliver. More is better. But I think they’re using the GM marketing book – hype it until you can sell it.
    Will the mid-sized Santa Fe get 38 mpg?!? The Ford Escape Hybrid (which is smaller) gets 31. The Toyota Highlander hybrid which is closer to the Santa Fe gets 27. I know Lithium technology batteries are good, and I could see in city driving with regenerative breaking that the lithium might provide 20% more mpg than Nimh, but on the highway, the 2.4 liter engine still has to pull the vehicle including the weight of the batteries…

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Now the pressure is really on GM. If they don’t build the Volt, the rest of the market will bury them.
    Someone is going to build the cars that we want. We’re going to buy them.
    Hype isn’t going to make it.
    The rest will become part of transportation history along with the others who couldn’t adapt to new technology including Baldwin Locomotive Works, Stanley Steamers, and Conestoga Wagons.

  • Need2Change

    2009 will see some improvements (e.g. Honda Insight, new Prius) plus new hybrids from other companies and a handful of low volume plug-in hybrids.

    But 2010 is the interesting year — with plug-in hybrids, all electircs, and huge tax breaks to buy them.

    Non-plugin hybrids may be old news.

    Chrysler also made a good decision to discontinue leasing. The residual value of a 18 mpg 2009 Chrysler 300 will be awlful in 2012.

  • hybridman2

    That’s great news! Maybe it will “shake and wake” the old guys at the Big Three.

    I’d love to get hold of a good hybrid electric and combine it with an HHO gas generator. Talk about the ultimate combo! I may set that as a future R and D project once we are producing our commercial grade units being developed.

    A 70-80 MPG car would be a great vehicle and good for everyone. Totally possible based on current tests on non-electric hybrids.

    Way to go Hyundai- push it!

  • Bryce

    ex-ev1 driver…..

    You mean you don’t ride a covered wagon to work everyday???


  • Jakob

    Listen guys.. we have been fooled by the car industry and we will continue to take that crap judging from your comments. How crazy is this we are driving in cars based on a 130 year old technology, even a T-ford gets better millage. and the first cars were electric cars.

    What happened to common sense folks. Don’t be fooled the technology is stored in secret warehouses until the public really really gets upset.

    Stop buying cars and maintain the one you have. Believe me a well build car can easily get 15 years. The more people realize this the lower the sales of cars and the more they realize that there is a need for improvement. Let the big 3 fall on there behinds so badly that the message gets out.


  • Bryce

    Funny how GM is the only one going to market with an electric car. 30 to 45 mpg isn’t that much of an improvement. Howabout 150 or 200 mpg, or even no gas at all. That is real progress.

  • Suzanne

    I am disappointed with this news. I had heard not too long ago that Hyundai was going to release a hybrid version of the Accent at a price point below $20,000.
    Why do they continue to push SUV’s?
    I own a 2001 Elantra that gets 28-32MPG. It’s a great little car.
    Oh well, Jakob is right. I’m going to drive that car probably for another 10 years.
    The auto industry, like all of corporate America is based on greed and the highest profit instead of thinking about the benefit to the consumer and the environment.
    This short-sighted strategy will be the eventual downfall of these companies and the economic system as we know it. It’s already started.
    This is actually a good thing – tearing down the existing structure to give way to a completely new paradigm.

  • thomatt12

    Good news for the Korean automaker… Now they are steeping up their game…