Competition among hybrid sedans is getting fiercer as eco-friendly vehicles are gaining popularity due to high oil prices.
In January of this year, the Korean government’s subsidy for a hybrid car was reduced from one million won (US$900) to 500,000 won (US$450). However, as oil prices hiked, demand for hybrid cars began to surge. According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, the sales of hybrid cars from January to April of this year reached 30,810 units, up 30.7% from the previous year. According to statistics of the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, sales of imported hybrid cars during the same span totaled 12,230 units, up 24.5% from the previous year.
The Granger IG Hybrid has been leading the market. By May this year, the Grandeur IG Hybrid sold 9,758 units. In May, the model set an all-time monthly record of 2,621 units. Its sales are expected to exceed 20,000 units this year, setting a new milestone.
The Grandeur IG Hybrid is loaded with a navigation-based cruise control that features an automatic deceleration function on freeways with speed limits. The passenger car has a 2.4-liter displacement (the same displacement as its gasoline model) Seta II 2.4 MPI hybrid engine (maximum output of 159 hp). A 2.4-liter displacement Seta II 2.4 engine and a 38-hp electric motor enable the Grandeur IG Hybrid to record 16.2 km/h fuel economy.
In the second half of this year, car importers will release full-sized hybrid cars. Last year, small- to mid-sized hybrid cars were popular in the market, but the focus of the market is gradually shifting to full-sized hybrid cars. Honda Korea will launch the Accord Hybrid in July. The model has a fuel efficiency of 19.5 km/liter and 215 horsepower, which are the best in its class. The Honda Accord Hybrid will have a duel with the Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Toyota Korea will launch its flagship sedan Avalon Hybrid in the second half of this year. Therefore, Toyota will build a full hybrid lineup consisting of the compact hybrid car Prius C, the mid-sized Camry Hybrid and the full-sized Avalon Hybrid in Korea.
During the January to May period of this year, Toyota and Lexus hybrid car sales in Korea stood at 8,212 units, up 19.8% year on year. In particular, Toyota hybrid car sales grew 67.6% year on year to 4,444 units.
Kia Motors plans to roll out a partially changed version of the sports utility vehicle (SUV) Sportage in the second half of the year. The model is expected to come equipped with a parallel-type mild hybrid engine, which can boost fuel economy and slash CO2 emissions. The engine features a 48V battery which is connected to a small motor and generator to improve the engine’s performance.
Kia Motors is holding a test drive event for the New K5 Hybrid which was launched in May on three occasions from June 14 to July 15. The New K5 Hybrid flaunts combined fuel economy of 18.0km/liter (based on 16-inch tires) which is higher fuel efficiency compared to its previous model (17.5km/liter). Its lithium-ion polymer battery capacity jumped 8.6% from 1.62kWh to 1.76kWh. Kia Motors explained that the carmaker enhanced the efficiency of the model by improving overall hybrid system components such as a spike in the efficiency of the electric vehicle (EV) mode which makes a car run on electricity without consuming any other fuels.