Hyundai Motor Group has announced a record-high budget for 2012 that includes 5.1 trillion Korean won (about $4.4 billion) for R&D, of which the lion’s share will be for hybrids and EVs, according to Singapore news portal AsiaOne. Company spokespeople made it clear that eco-friendly cars will be its main focus in 2012.
The giant auto conglomerate plans a division of labor between its Hyundai and Kia divisions, with Hyundai developing new PHEV and hydrogen fuel cell models, and Kia focusing on pure EVs. Kia launched the first Korean-made EV in December, the Kia Ray EV.
Hyundai has two hybrids in production, the Sonata and the K5, and plans to launch several new models in 2012. It also has an ambitious goal – to knock Toyota from its number-one US hybrid sales perch. With a new electric motor that the company claims is 18 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than those used by its rivals, and a history of undercutting other automakers’ prices, it’s a feat that the Korean firm may just pull off.