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The company says it expects the initial annual volume of the Sonata hybrid to be around 50,000 units—although its battery supplier has committed to supply only 20,000 packs in the first years of production. Obviously, for Hyundai to meet its goals for the Sonata, either the sales volume will need to be reduced or battery production must increase.
Meanwhile, Zuchowski expressed a cautious view of US auto sales for the rest of the year, into 2009. “We believe the industry will soften over the last quarter,” Zuchowski said last month at the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit. Hyundai will post a sales increase this year, but will fall short of its goal of selling 500,000 vehicles in 2008. The company is running short on supply of its popular small cars because of a series of strikes over the summer at a major plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
Hyundai is leaving no stone unturned. Next year, it plans to introduce a mild-hybrid propane-powered version of the Elantra in Korea, and is talking about producing a plug-in series hybrid by 2013.