Hyundai has announced that it will begin to mass produce hybrid cars next year in a move certain to please an environmentally conscious market and which is likely to cement its position as a top five automaker. The new Hyundai hybrid vehicle will be called the ‘Avante’ and it will arrive by the middle of next year. In 2010, Hyundai will follow it up with a second midsize hybrid model and eventually a fuel-cell model in 2012.

While hybrids have been around for years, Hyundai is predicting large increases in demand for the green vehicles as consumers turn to fuel-efficient cars. Currently, Hyundai provides Verna (Accent) hybrid models to government agencies as pilot projects.

Hyundai faces stiff competition in a market already dominated by Toyota's Prius, but by mass-producing hybrids the scales of economies may allow the Korean carmaker to significantly undercut its competitors. This would give it a sizeable advantage, although pricing for the Avante is still uncertain at the moment.

The fuel-cell vehicle, meanwhile, will be a couple of years late to the market, considering Mercedes' goal of 2010 and Honda’s already-launched FCX Clarity. However a low cost fuel-cell may shake things up a bit in the alternative fuel vehicles market. Pictured above is Hyundai’s i-Blue crossover concept, a fuel-cell model the carmaker has now confirmed will enter production.