Hyundai Sonata and Next-Gen Kia Optima to Receive Plug-in Hybrid Versions in 2015

2015 Hyundai Sonata reviewed 1 photo
Photo: Hyundai
Both Kia and Hyundai are currently displaying new powertrain technology at the Paris Motor Show. These include two new downsized turbo engines, a 1-liter 3-cylinder and a 1.4-liter, the first twin-clutch transmission and natural gas engine. However, the Koreans have even bigger plans on the table, ones that will challenge Toyota and Honda.
According to a report from The Korean Car Blog, R&D vice chairman at Hyundai Motor Group, Yang Woong-Chul, stated that plug-in hybrid versions of the Sonata and Kia K5 (that's an Optima) will be launched next year onto the global market.

“We will roll out a plug-in hybrid model of Sonata and K5 next year. Since we will use locally made engines, inverters and batteries, we expect them to have strong price competitiveness,"
Yang said.

The Sonata is brand new, a 2015 model year in America. However, the hybrid model that's currently on sale is a older 2014 model year and will be retired soon. Kia, on the other hand, needs to launch an all-new Optima soon, a car they've been testing on all continents.

At the Paris Motor Show, a concept called Optima T-Hybrid is currently on display. It combines their 1.7-liter diesel engine with 15-hp electric motor, a 48-volt lead-carbon battery, and an electric supercharger. That's right, it's one of those e-turbos that Audi wants to use as well.

As impressive as that sounds, it's not a PHEV. To make a true plug-in, the Koreans will probably have to use a much more powerful electric motor that can push the car on its own and a petrol engine (probably a 2.0 Kappa), since diesels are still uncommon in America and China, their two biggest markets.

Why did we say Korea will compete with Toyota and Honda?

Because the Sonata and Optima PHEVs will go up against the Honda Accord PHEV and to a lesser extent the Prius PHEV. Both Japanese brands are experts at making green cars, having started developing hybrids in the 90s.

In order to compete, locally made parts from Korea will be used in order to keep costs down to a minimum.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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