Hyundai will no longer develop and produce pure electric vehicles in any great volume, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group vice chairman Yang Woong-chul Yang said during a press briefing at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Hyundai will focus on plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, while affiliate Kia Motors will focus on electric cars and will start selling a box-shaped pure electric car in South Korea by the end of this year.
Hyundai and Kia, which together rank fifth in global car sales, have been slow in tapping into the segment, focusing more on fuel-efficient gasoline models. Yang, who heads research and development at Hyundai and Kia, said that it would be difficult for electric cars to replace those equipped with internal combustion engines, citing limited battery technology and infrastructure, according to reports in South Korea.
Last year Hyundai started to produce its first all-electric model, the BlueOn, for only fleet use in South Korea.
A spokesman for Kia said: “While it is true that top group management has decided that Hyundai will pursue plug-ins as its core strategic eco-friendly growth platform while Kia will focus on EVs, this does not mean that Kia will not offer hybrids, plug-ins or FCEVs. Kia will be the first to launch a global full-electric vehicle but Hyundai could also offer full-EV cars at a later point in time.”
Hyundai has a technological advantage in producing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as it succeeded in independently developing a 115 kW-class stack, a core component for such vehicles. It also operated two ix35 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in Denmark in May on a trial basis.