It’s a hybrid party, and everyone is coming. The latest manufacturer to RSVP is Hyundai, the one time Korean upstart that’s become a serious player on the world automotive stage.
Joining Toyota and its benchmark Prius, Camry and Highlander hybrids at the party, along with Honda, maker of the Civic hybrid, Hyundai will be bringing a hybrid version of its popular Sonata sedan to the U.S. in 2010 — also the year that GM will bring its much anticipated Chevy Volt to market. The Hybrid Sonata and the Volt will also share something besides the year of their debutant ball; both will be packing lithium-ion battery technology.
Running vehicles on lithium-ion batteries is a big step, one that really throws down the gauntlet to Toyota’s industry-leading Prius and hybrid Camry and Highlander, all of which use nickel-metal hydride batteries (though the next-gen Prius is likely to have lithium-ion versions). Not that there’s anything wrong with nickel-metal hydride batteries, but lithium-ion technology has advantages, primarily that it’s lighter and charges more quickly.
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