Hyundai has announced that it will release a hybrid version of its midsized Avante sedan in 2009, a car that will combine an electric motor with an internal combustion engine that runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This will be the first high-volume Korean hybrid car and according to Hyundai, it will use just 30% of the fuel consumed by the regular Avante, which is equivalent to 20km per liter.

"We plan to release an LPG hybrid before a gasoline hybrid because there are sufficient LPG fuel facilities and we have the advanced technology. A gasoline hybrid will be released by 2010," revealed a Hyundai official who spoke with Korea’s Chosun newspaper.

By releasing an LPG version, the Koreans will have an advantage over the Japanese, who already are leading the world in hybrid tech. LPG costs about half the price of petrol in most markets, which would make LPG versions much more economic to run than current hybrids.

Sister brand Kia will likely launch a similar model sharing the same technology, with the two carmakers expected to start mass production of the hybrids in 2009. The aim will be to gradually increase this by 20,000 units per year until 2015.