A vice chairman of Hyundai Motors said South Korea’s biggest car maker has no plans for any pure electric vehicles, and even expressed skepticism about the future of this much-touted technology. Well, someone had to I suppose.
Instead of trying to lead the pack, the Korean carmaker has decided to dive back into the 20th century to focus on diesel vehicles, and then later, plug-in hybrids.
While Hyundai has chosen the oily path of diesels and hybrids, it’s affiliate Kia Motors, plans to sell a pure electric car in South Korea by the end of this year.
While General Motors, Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor are betting big on electric or hybrid electric cars, 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 & diesel models.
Having test-driven their new diesel vehicles I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed. You get many people who drive their diesel clunkers in denial, stating, “You can’t tell it’s a diesel” – always lying through their teeth of course, but in Hyundai’s case you really can’t tell it’s a diesel.
Their engines are reasonably economical (for internal combustion engines) and quite quiet (again, for internal combustion engines). Compared to an all-electric vehicles however they cost an arm & a leg to run, and sound like tractors – but in such a comparison so do all internal combustion engined vehicles.
Yang Woong-chul heads the research and development centre at Hyundai and Kia, and said that it would be difficult for electric cars to replace those equipped with internal combustion engines, citing limited battery technology and infrastructure, reports said. He obviously doesn’t have electricity at his home.
In an attempt to not be left behind completely, Hyundai this year started selling an hybrid version of its Sonata sedan in the United States, its first overseas hybrid model, as well as South Korea.
A Kia Motors spokesman has also said the company plans to roll out an A-segment all-electric car in South Korea but not overseas, which is almost useful. It sounds to me as if they have invested heavily in ICE technology and need to make it work at any cost.
Kia’s upcoming electric car, code named “TAM”, can travel a completely predictable range of 160 kilometers (100 miles) per charge. A stunted range which all oil-burning car makers limit their electric cars with in order to channel more sales to the more labour intensive (and hence more profitable) ICE-powered vehicles. Nothing new there, then.
I expect it’ll be up to the start-ups with nothing to lose when it comes to long-range all-electric cars, such as the Tesla Roadster, the Model-S, and the upcoming Coda Sedan.
Lloyds predict $200 USD per barrel of crude oil by the end of next year, thanks to global demand starting to outstrip supply. This means car makers still investing in ICE technology will be left behind. This simple theory rests on the premise that the price of oil will keep rising, which is a complete certainty, so keep your eyes peeled for a rapidly changing vehicle market in 2011 & 2012.