Hyundai has a twofold goal: Become the fuel economy leader in the United States by 2015 and show technological prowess.
On the schedule for the next three years are smaller engines, direct-injection gasoline engines, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell technology. Hyundai calls the fuel economy initiative Blue Drive; the specific models will be labeled Blue Edition.
At the same time, Hyundai is trying to go upscale. The Equus, a large, rear-drive luxury sedan with a V-8, bows next summer. The car, priced around $60,000, is aimed at the BMW 5 series and Mercedes-Benz E class.
Hyundai's grand plan is to elevate the automaker's global image.
"We want to show our technology and improve our image, not necessarily make money on hybrids," said Yang Woong-chul, r&d president at Hyundai-Kia Motors. "We want to get people to drive our cars. We need to get people to the dealerships.
"We want to be the leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels. Hyundai will be seen as a technology-driven brand with things like eight-speed automatic transmissions and telematics. We're going after Prius and Volt" with a plug-in, Yang said during an interview at the Seoul motor show in April.
Nearly all of the technology will be built in-house, he added.
Here is a glimpse of Hyundai's vehicle plans for the United States for the 2010 through 2012 model years.
Accent: The Accent Blue Edition debuts for the 2010 model year.
Blue Drive's mission is to create models with less content and less weight, resulting in a lower price and higher miles per gallon. For example, models will have a lower gear ratio and tires with less rolling resistance. A 1 to 2 mpg improvement is expected.
A lower sticker price will reflect the elimination of such equipment as power windows and door locks.
The Accent subcompact will be redesigned for the 2011 or 2012 model year.
Small coupe: A new, front-wheel-drive coupe will be the spiritual successor to the sporty Tiburon coupe, which went out of production at the end of the 2008 model year. The new coupe will be a 2012 model, powered by Hyundai's new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.
Elantra: The Elantra small car will offer a Blue Edition for the 2010 model year. A redesign is planned for the 2012 model year.
Sonata: The Sonata mid-sized sedan will be the first Hyundai vehicle to offer the automaker's hybrid powertrain, arriving at the end of 2010. The redesigned Sonata goes on sale early next year with the automaker's first direct-injection gasoline engine, a four-cylinder.
The Sonata may be the first Hyundai model offered with a double-clutch transmission.
Azera: The near-luxury sedan is expected to be dropped; the timing is unclear.