Korea Times. Hyundai Motor’s head of hybrid research has requested that the South Korean government give subsidies to manufacturers and buyers of hybrid vehicles because Korean companies are about 10 years behind Japanese makers.
Kim Min-jin, Senior Vice President of Hyundai, said that hybrid cars will become a market standard after 2010 and that financial support from the government is desperately needed for Korean automakers to commercialize their vehicles in time.
“We cannot make a profit in hybrid cars because imported parts, such as batteries, are too expensive,” Kim said in an e-mail interview with The Korea Times. “Cost is the largest obstacle to their commercialization”
The Japanese government supports about a half of the additional cost in manufacturing hybrid cars, Kim said. In the United States, the federal government offers buyers up to a $3,400 tax deduction on a hybrid.
Hyundai introduced its first hybrid—the Click/Getz Hybrid— in 2004, and last year showed a mild hybrid Accent at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition. (Earlier post.)
Hyundai has provided 780 Click Hybrid cars to various government agencies such as the Ministry of Environment. So far, there is no plan for commercial sales. Kim said that Hyundai will deliver 3,390 more units to the government by 2008.
“After that, we will launch a new vehicle that is superior to Japanese cars in both price and performance,” he said.