As Hyundai seeks to diversify its alternative energy strategy, the Korean automaker has said it will develop an alternative to Toyota’s Prius.

“We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars,” Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho.

Or so it says. While the car has been spoted under development, and this story is making the rounds, a similar story of a Prius competitor was reported in 2010.

It’s safe to say it’s not a new idea, and has been a long time coming, but it appears it will be here eventually.

Hyundai has also been outspoken in the past against plug-in hybrids, but does have a regular full hybrid version of its Optima sedan (pictured).

It also is out in front with a Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle leased in California from $499. This technology was what led Hyundai’s chief to say plug-in cars make less sense than fuel cell technology.

The news of a Hyundai Prius fighter comes as Toyota’s existing third-generation car is nearing replacement. Toyota says it will have a new Prius that’s sportier, gets better mileage, and improves overall on the existing formula.

It’s due late next year, and may get 10-percent or better economy over the EPA rating of 50 combined now, at least that is a goal.

Kia declined to say when it would release its Prius-styled alternative but will be its first “dedicated” hybrid – that is one designed only as a hybrid like the Prius is now.