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by Tim Beissmann

Reports out of the Frankfurt Motor Show suggest South Korean giant Hyundai will abandon electric vehicle development to focus its efforts on hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

 

According to South Korean newspaper The Chosunilbo, Hyundai Motors vice chairman and head of research and development, Yang Woong-chul, said plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were the way of the future for the brand.

Mr Yang said he doubted the ability of electric cars to replace internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, naming driving range, battery technology and infrastructure as the key limitations.

While determined not to put all its eggs in one basket, Mr Yang said Hyundai’s sister company Kia would step up its focus on electric cars.

Kia is currently developing its first non-concept EV, reportedly a boxed-shaped compact car codenamed ‘TAM’. It will have an all-electric range of 160km on a single charge and will be capable of a top speed of 130km/h. The A-segment EV will reportedly be produced only for the domestic market, with no word of export plans at this stage.

Last year, Hyundai began production of the BlueOn electric vehicle. It has been used by fleets in South Korea, but Hyundai now plans to focus on developing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles.

In March, the Hyundai Blue2 Concept was unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show showcasing a hydrogen propulsion system, while in July, CarAdvice jumped behind the wheel of the Hyundai ix35 FCEV, a prototype hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with a range of 650km.

The Hyundai ix35 FCEV will enter mass production in 2015 with an estimated starting price of US$50,000.

What do you think of Hyundai’s strategy? Is it a good idea to bypass the all-electric trend, or do EVs have an important role to play in the short-term future of the automotive industry? Let us know in the comments section below.




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