There is no doubting that Hyundai knows what it needs to do to beat the big boys at their own game: the Korean brand is preparing a plug-in hybrid to be ready for sale in the US, and expected to hit global markets by 2012.
The Hyundai BLUE-WILL concept on display at the Seoul Motor Show will provide the strongest hint of what to expect from Hyundai. Expect to see something very close to the concept's direct injection 1.6 litre engine and 100kW electric motor in an eventual production model.
Other elements from the concept may not quite make it through unscathed, but given the design's highly conceptual styling, that's to be expected.
The dramatic-looking body will of course be toned-down more than a few shades, and innovations like headlamp bezels made from recycled soft-drink bottles and see-through solar panelling are great on a concept, but may not suit production realities or buyer budgets.
For the moment, price has not been mentioned. President of R&D at Hyundai, Yang Woong-Chul, said the plan was to demonstrate Hyundai's technical abilities.
?We want to show our technological image to get people to the dealerships to drive our cars, we are not necessarily trying to make money on hybrids.?
Hyundai's competition in the plug-in arena may have reason to look over their shoulders, with Woong-Chul also declaring, ?We want to be the world leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels.? A warning perhaps for the likes of the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius.
Interestingly, the R&D chief also said that the hybrid system employed in the BLUE-WILL is not expected to be shared with any Kia model - Hyundai's sister company - in the foreseeable future.