Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group will release their first hybrid vehicles this month, and have set their sights on taking a great leap in the global hybrid market, which is currently dominated by Toyota. The Japanese automaker has sold over three million units worldwide since it debuted the world's first mass-produced hybrid in 1997.
Kia will roll out the K5 gasoline-electric hybrid this month, targeting global sales of 11,500 units this year including 5,500 in the domestic market. It plans to expand worldwide sales to 20,000 next year. Hyundai will also release its long-awaited Sonata hybrid at the end of this month.
Hyundai-Kia claim their models will outperform their Japanese rivals. The K5 hybrid boasts fuel efficiency of 21.7km/l, some 6.6 percent higher than the Toyota Camry's 19.7km/h. The latter is equipped with a 100kw electric motor that puts out 150 horsepower, while the K5 hybrid can produce the same performance with a smaller 30kw motor, making the vehicle lighter and more fuel efficient.
Another feature of the K5 and Sonata is that they can be powered by the electric motor even at high speeds, while Toyota's hybrid system is unable to use the electric motor at speeds of over 70 km/h. In addition, the Camry features nickel-hydrogen batteries whereas the K5 is fitted with a smaller and more efficient lithium-ion polymer batteries. Test results show that the lithium-ion batteries supplied by LG Chem can last up to 300,000 km, Hyundai-Kia claim.
The K5 hybrid comes with a six year, 120,000 km warranty for the engine, longer than the Camry's five year, 80,000 km warranty. The Korean car is also cheaper, at W29.25 million compared to W45.9 million for the Camry hybrid (US$1=W1,087).