Hyundai electric car coming soon, exec says

Hyundai is preparing to launch a plug-in electric vehicle in the next year. Will it help woo the range-anxious American consumer?

Until now, most of the electric vehicle action has been from Chevrolet and Nissan, with the Volt and Leaf, respectively.

But what if you don't like those marques -- and a hybrid Toyota Prius or Honda Civic isn't electric enough for you? Fans of other brands have been watching on the sidelines, waiting for another EV to step up to the plate.

PluginCars reports that Hyundai, Korean darling of middle America, is preparing to announce a mass-market plug-in electric vehicle.

Nick Chambers quotes Hyundai product planning head Mike O'Brien from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit:

"Our technology development in hybrids was specifically to address the issue of future plug-in deployment," O'Brien said to PluginCars.com on the sidelines of the Detroit Auto Show last week. "Other manufacturers' hybrid systems were developed in such a way to not allow them to easily develop plug-in hybrids. For the Sonata Hybrid to become a plug-in hybrid, really all we need are bigger batteries—the basic technology platform is already designed to support a plug-in variation."

Until now, Hyundai has been focused on boosting the mileage of its non-plug-in-electric vehicles, O'Brien said to Chambers.

In fact, it was only last year that the company debuted its Sonata hybrid.

It makes plenty of sense that Hyundai doesn't see a lot of business sense in rushing to market with cutting-edge technology; most of its customers want a reliable, affordable family car, not a futuristic technological testbed. (Still, the company's been working on its Blue Drive hybrid platform for several years.)

But that leaves this question: if Hyundai goes electric, will it help assuage widespread consumer fears about the plug-in EV?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com