Hyundai to Rival Toyota's Prius With New Hybrid Car

Oct 30, 2014 01:00 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Hyundai Motor is developing its first dedicated gas-electric car that would go up against Toyota Motor Corp's best-selling Prius.

The move should help the automaker diversify its eco-friendly vehicle line-up and hedge its bets in green technology in order to meet stricter emission regulations in key markets.

This year Hyundai started selling what it says is the industry's first fuel cell models available to consumers, at three dealerships in California.

Hyundai also plans to start selling its first battery-powered electric vehicle by 2016.

"We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars," Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho said at a launch event for its Aslan premium sedan in South Korea, according to Reuters.

Kim didn't mention details like when the hybrid would reach dealerships or a base price. It will be Hyundai's first "dedicated" hybrid, a vehicle created to be marketed just as a hybrid, instead of a variation of an existing gasoline model.

The Prius recorded 165,490 sales in the U.S. through September, which is down 11.3 percent from the same time in 2013. Hybrid sales usually drop when gas prices are low.

Ford Motors is planning its first dedicated hybrid model as well, according to Reuters.

The new compact is expected to be released as a 2019 mode, some 21 years after the original Prius was introduced in Japan.

Hyundai is looking to sell 22,000 of its new Aslan large sedans in South Korea next year, believing that the domestic-focused vehicle will help the automaker fight off German rivals like the Volkswagen Passat.

"The new model will help tighten our grip on the (domestic) premium car market," said Kim Sang-dae, director at Hyundai's Domestic Marketing Group, according to Reuters.

The automaker is looking at introducing the Aslan in China, Middle Eastern countries and in the United States.

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