DETROIT -- The next Chevrolet Volt will have Korean competition.
Today at the Detroit auto show, Hyundai revealed its first battery-powered vehicle: a plug-in hybrid version of the Sonata midsize sedan that will go on sale this year. Hyundai said it plans to start by selling the 2016 Sonata PHEV in California and nine other U.S. states that mandate sales of zero-emission vehicles.
With a range of 22 miles on battery power and a combined output of 202 hp from a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor, the Sonata PHEV offers substantially more power than the redesigned Volt, but less than half the range in all-electric mode.
With the debut of the Sonata PHEV, following last year’s launch of the all-electric Kia Soul EV and the hydrogen-fueled Hyundai Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle, Hyundai Motor Group now has a complement of three electrified powertrains.
Within the Hyundai Motor Group, Kia has taken responsibility for plug-ins, while Hyundai has led development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which charge a battery by converting hydrogen gas into electricity in an onboard fuel cell.
However, the Korean automaker has decided that Hyundai and Kia should hedge their bets by sharing technology. “There is no clear direction about which eco-friendly cars will win,” Reuters quoted Hyundai senior vice president Lee Ki-sang as saying at the launch of the Soul EV last May.
Also today, Hyundai unveiled the redesigned 2016 Sonata Hybrid, which uses a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid setup similar to that of the Toyota Prius.
The redesigned hybrid, set apart from the basic Sonata by its more aerodynamic body and wheels, promises fuel economy of 39 mpg city, 44 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined, which is 10 percent better than the outgoing model.
Hyundai said both of its new hybrids will be built at its assembly plant in Asan, South Korea, rather than at Hyundai’s factory in Montgomery, Ala., which builds the ordinary gasoline-fueled Sonata for the American market.