New spy shots of Hyundai’s upcoming answer to the Prius have been released. The prototype was heavily cloaked, but photos show – for the first time – Hyundai’s new body for the mule.
With a compact footprint, wedge-like front and a stubby rear end, the Hyundai’s profile is very similar to a 2014 Toyota Prius v. The photos, which were released by AutoGuide.com, also show close-ups of the undercarriage. HybridCars.com is unable to share copyrighted photos, but the full gallery can be seen at this link.
The prototype still lacks a name and a release date, though Hyundai has previously said the compact will be a purpose-built hybrid, not a current model outfitted with an electric motor. AutoGuide predicts the car will be released next year with a 1.6-liter inline-four engine as part of the hybrid powertrain.
The idea of creating a small hybrid to compete with the Prius isn’t new for Hyundai. In 2010, Miles Johnson, Hyundai product public relations manager, spoke with HybridCars.com about the concept.
“We are studying a dedicated Prius-fighter vehicle, meaning a hybrid-specific nameplate that isn’t based off a Sonata or a Santa Fe,” said Johnson. “It’s its own thing.”
At the time, Johnson expected this project, pictured above, to be ready by 2012.
“We’ve also been studying plug-in hybrid technology, which is a bit farther out for us. But the near-term would be a Prius-sized vehicle,” Johnson said. “You can look at the dimensions of the Blue Will concept and see it would be a similar package and size to a Prius.”
The compact prototype is part of Hyundai’s strategy to expand hybrid sales. Later this year, an updated Sonata Hybrid and an all-new Sonata Plug-In Hybrid will be available. Hyundai is also considering producing a crossover with an efficient diesel engine.
Currently, Toyota dominates the hybrid market, accounting for 66.84-percent of all hybrid sales. Hyundai/Kia ranked in fourth place last month, with a marginal 6.59-percent market share.