Hyundai says its first electric vehicle will roll into showrooms in 2012.
The Korean automaker unveiled the BlueOn today in Seoul, where company execs went for a spin in the little EV with President Lee Myung-Bak and various government ministers. The company promised to deliver a test fleet of 30 BlueOns to the government by the end of next month.
The move comes as the rest of the industry scrambles to bring us cars with chords and Hyundai risks being left behind as Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and even Honda develop electric vehicles. Hyundai boasted that the BlueOn is the first “full-speed electric vehicle” developed in Korea.
“Consumers’ interests and demand for eco-friendly cars are rising and securing such advanced technology is critical in becoming an industry leader,” Dr. Hyun-Soon Lee, vice chairman of Hyundai’s corporate R&D, said in a statement. “Hyundai is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint and satisfying market needs.”
Hyundai rolled out an electric version of its i10 hatchback last year at the Frankfurt auto show. The company says it has spent 40 billion won (about $34.2 million) during the past year developing the vehicle. It’s a compact, just 12 feet long, with a 16.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery. Hyundai says BlueOn will have a range of 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) and a recharge time of 6 hours at 220 volts. It’ll charge in as little as 25 minutes if you can find a high-voltage quick-charger.
The car is propelled by a 61 kilowatt (82 horsepower) motor with 154 pound feet of torque. Top speed is 130 km/hr (about 80 mph) and the little car will do zero to 100 km/hr in 13.1 seconds, the company says. BlueOn’s specs put it somewhere between the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan Leaf in terms of claimed range and performance.
Hyundai will roll out a test fleet in October to develop and test a public charging infrastructure. It also will show the car off at events like the upcoming G20 summit. The company says it will build 2,500 BlueOn electric cars in 2012 but has not decided where to sell the car.
“We are taking a baby step. There is no infrastructure such as charging stations in Korea and many other countries,” a company spokesperson told Reuters.
The government of South Korea wants 20 percent of the nation’s vehicles to be electric by 2020.
If you’re wondering about the name, it comes from Hyundai’s “Blue Drive” strategy, the name its given to its eco-friendlier vehicles, and “switch on.” At least it’s better than “i-MiEV.”
Main photo: Associated Press. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak test dirves Hyundai’s electric vehicle, BlueOn, in the compound of the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea.
All others: Hyundai
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