Hyundai-Kia managing director, Kim Hae-jin, said his company would focus on diesel hybrid technology rather than electric vehicles in the short term.
“[Diesel hybrid] commercialisation will be established around 2011.“Electric cars will be produced in 2011 as well, but it will take five or six more years to churn them out. So the company will concentrate more on diesel hybrid models,” he confirmed.
Kim would not reveal which models would receive the diesel hybrid system first, but did explain that it would be a “mild-type” hybrid (with the motor and engine running together) rather than a “full-type” hybrid like the Toyota Prius (where the two operate separately).
Kim said his company would forge ahead with the technology despite dwindling demand and government surcharges on diesels in South Korea, citing the efficiency gains international popularity of diesels as reasons to pursue it.
“Combustion efficiency will surge 30 percent in hybridised diesel engines, over the 25 percent rise expected in gasoline hybrid engines.”
So far no manufacturer has released a mass-produced diesel hybrid vehicle.
Peugeot will be among the first next year with its 1.6-litre 308 HDi, capable of 3.4 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of just 90g/km.
Mercedes-Benz has also invested a significant time and money into its BlueTec concepts, which are nearing production-readiness.