SEOUL (Reuters) - A vice chairman of Hyundai Motor said South Korea’s top automaker does not plan to mass-produce a pure electric vehicle, expressing skepticism about the future of the much-touted technology, according to media reports.
The carmaker will focus on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, while affiliate Kia Motors plans to sell a box-shaped pure electric car in South Korea by the end of this year, reports said.
While General Motors, Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor are betting big on electric or hybrid electric cars, Hyundai and Kia, which together rank fifth in global car sales, have been slow in tapping into the segment, focusing more on fuel-efficient gasoline models.
Yang Woong-chul, a vice chairman who heads research and development at Hyundai and Kia, said that it would be difficult for electric cars to replace those equipped with internal combustion engines, citing limited battery technology and infrastructure, reports said.
A Hyundai Motor spokesman said he was looking into the reports.
Hyundai Motor started last year to produce its first all-electric model, BlueOn, for only fleet use in South Korea. Hyundai this year started selling an hybrid version of its Sonata sedan in the United States, its first overseas hybrid model, as well as South Korea.
A Kia Motors spokesman said the company plans to roll out an A-segment all-electric car in South Korea but not overseas.
Kia’s upcoming electric car, codenamed TAM, can run 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a single charge and has maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour (80.8 miles per hour), Yonhap said.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner