Beginning with the introduction of a hybrid Hyundai Elantra in its home market of Korea, Hyundai Motors has big plans for hybrid cars. The first hybrid that the Korean automaker will launch in the United States will be based on its mid-sized Sonata platform and will do battle with hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry, Saturn Aura and Chevy Malibu, competitors it goes up against in the non-hybridized realm already. The Sonata hybrid model will be introduced at the upcoming LA Auto Show. According to Jang Seok-san, senior vice president of Hyundai export coordination, the automaker will then begin rolling out additional hybrids and plans to sell half a million units annually by 2018.

Though marketing heads at Hyundai respect the Toyota Prius and Honda's upcoming Insight, don't expect any dedicated hybrid models from the automaker, at least in the near-term. Hyundai seems to recognize that the public likes its hybrids to be different models than what's available elsewhere, but the cost associated with launching a completely new model means that it won't happen until the next set of new vehicles from Korea.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]