Hyundai is preparing to launch the world’s first hybrid vehicle powered by advanced lithium-polymer batteries and capable of running on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), but the company is already looking towards the next-generation of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Now ranked as the world’s fifth-largest carmaker in conjunction with its Kia subsidiary, Hyundai is making strides to build a product line that reflects its status among the world’s top manufacturers.

The company’s president Yang Woong-chul has now confirmed that a production version of the Blue-Will plug-in hybrid concept will go on sale in the U.S. by late 2012. Woong-chul hopes to target cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota’s upcoming Prius plug-in hybrid, revealing to Automotive News that he wants Hyundai “to be the world leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels.”

The latest comments mirror a similar announcement made by Hyundai’s U.S. chief John Krafcik earlier this week, where he also explained that the Blue-Will be positioned as a sportier alternative to the Chevrolet and Toyota plug-ins.

In concept form, the Blue-Will features a proprietary plug-in hybrid drivetrain developed in Hyundai’s South Korean R&D center. The drivetrain includes a 1.6L four-cylinder petrol engine with direct-injection technology, which is used to charge an array of lithium-polymer batteries. These batteries are used to power a small electric motor that drives the front wheels. The total output of the system is 154hp (115kW) and the claimed electric-only driving range is 40 miles.

To remain competitive, Hyundai has developed almost every component in the Blue-Will in-house, which Woong-chul explained will allow the company to keep it affordable. He also said that the plug-in hybrid is aimed at generating profits but to draw in customers and promote Hyundai as a technological leader.