The Liter car will be one of the first dividends from the alliance between Hyundai, DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi. The world car will debut in 2002. Although the alliance between Hyundai and DaimlerChrysler was only recently announced, this project is not new.
'We have been involved in a partnership with Mitsu-bishi for some time, while they have been discussing the project independently with DaimlerChrysler,' said Lee Chung Goo, Hyundai Motor's head of research and development. 'We can now all work more formally together as true partners.'
Hyundai will produce the car in South Korea and in a new joint venture in China with Kia. The Chinese factory had produced light commercial vehicles and the Kia Pride car. Mitsubishi will build the Liter car at its NedCar plant in Born, Netherlands. DaimlerChrysler also might use the car, which would use up excess production capacity when Volvo pulls out of the NedCar plant.
The partners are considering three- and five-door versions of the Liter car, plus a small MPV. The car will feature newly designed powertrains, including a direct-injection gasoline engine, a diesel, and a continuously variable transmission. Most of this technology comes from Mitsubishi. 'The three companies will share the platform, but we will each have our own distinctive design and badging,' Lee said.
DaimlerChrysler already has offered some help on quality, design and technology. The partners will draw upon the German automaker's expertise in alternative fuels and diesel engines. Hyundai has been developing fuel cells with International Fuel Cell Co., while DaimlerChrysler has been working with Ballard. 'I think we both can learn something from each other,' Lee said.