Hyundai’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle will be based on the Blue-Will concept car unveiled earlier this year

Hyundai’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle will be based on the Blue-Will concept car unveiled earlier this year

Hyundai is moving into the hybrid business quickly, with its first petrol-electric model expected to debut in South Korea this July and the U.S. by next year. A couple of years after that the automaker sees itself launching more advanced plug-in hybrid vehicles, with a sports car variant expected to debut in the U.S. by late 2012.

Hyundai’s U.S. chief John Krafcik first hinted at a plug-in hybrid sports car entering production back in March following the unveiling of the Blue-Will plug-in hybrid concept car. Krafcik explained that any car based on the Blue-Will has a “very good possibility” of coming to North America.

The automaker’s R&D chief Yang Woong-chul has now confirmed the news, revealing to Automotive News that the car will be on sale in the U.S. by late 2012 and that cars like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt will be its main targets.

"We want to be the leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels," Yang said. "We want to show our technology and improve our image, not necessarily make money on hybrids.

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 – the same as the Volt.

While 154hp (115kW) may not be much for a supposed sports car, this figure may be increased for the production version. Additionally, the instant-torque nature of electric-powered cars means that 0-60mph times should be quick even with just 154hp (115kW) on tap, though top speed will be limited.