To focus on hydrogen, Hyundai passes Kia keys to EV market

Not every automaker is jumping on the electric bandwagon--Hyundai plans to focus on producing fuel cell vehicles, and will leave the EV market to Kia.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle concept.
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle concept. Hyundai

Electric vehicles may seem like the inevitable evolution of the conventional gas-powered automobile, but not every carmaker agrees. Hyundai will sit out the pure-electric car round, and instead concentrate its efforts on designing the next-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

As part of a decision by the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Hyundai--which owns 51 percent of Kia--will stop all efforts to develop and produce electric vehicles, according to Korean newspaper The Chosun Iblo. The auto manufacturer previously planned to produce the all-electric BlueOn, but it has shelved those plans and instead will focus on developing the Tucson ix Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. The Tucson ix FCEV has a driving range of approximately 350 miles and produces zero tailpipe emissions, and is expected to enter production in 2015.

But to hedge its bets, Kia will take the lead on developing EVs for the world market. Kia introduced its first hybrid vehicle this year, the Optima Hybrid, and it's arriving late to the EV car market as well. Kia has floated some forward-thinking all-electric car designs, such as the Pop and Naimo, but it has not made any official announcement about which EVs it will produce.

Reuters reports that Kia plans to sell a "box-shaped pure electric car" in South Korea by the end of this year, which could be the Venga. Kia also is planning an electric crossover in 2014 for the global market, according to Car and Driver.

Source: Reuters