Hyundai says to launch LPG hybrid car at home

SEOUL, July 8 (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co 005380.KS plans to start retail sales of a hybrid version of the Elantra in South Korea in July 2009, the country's top auto maker said on Tuesday.

Hyundai does not currently plan to export the model, a company official said.

Hyundai, which controls almost half of South Korea's auto market, said the compact sedan would be powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and lithium polymer batteries, which will be supplied solely by South Korea's LG Chem 051910.KS.

The plan comes as rising gasoline prices and concerns about climate change have spurred consumer and investor interest in electric and hybrid vehicles.

The hybrid Elantra is cheaper to operate than other hybrid models currently available as LPG prices are lower than gasoline, Hyundai said.

“Comparing operating costs among different types of hybrid vehicles currently available in the market place, the Elantra LPI HEV promises to be the cheapest of all to run,” the company said in a statement, referring the name of the hybrid Elantra.

Hyundai plans to launch a mid-sized gasoline-electric hybrid sedan, in 2010, the official added.

Shares in Hyundai ended down 2.95 percent at 69,000 won in line with a 2.93 percent drop in the broader market .KS11. (Reporting by Cheon Jong-woo; Editing by Paul Bolding)