Hyundai May Conquer the Car World in 2009

Don't look now, but 2009 is shaping up to be the year of the Hyundai. Thus far they are among the few car companies showing a sales gain.

They kicked off the year with that dynamite Super Bowl commercial about the Hyundai Genesis, which featured outraged Japanese and German auto execs repeatedly shouting the company name.

In January they launched a buyer incentive program so successful that both GM and Ford have created similar programs modeled on Hyundai's.

The 2009 Seoul Motor Show opens on April 2 at the Korea International Exhibition Center. Last held in 2007 (the show is biannual), this year's show will feature 158 ehibitors from 9 countries, including Honda, Toyota, Ford, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and of course Hyundai. They're expecting to draw 1 million visitors.

Hyundai debuted its Blue-Will plug-in concept at the Seoul Motor Show. Not coincidentally, the vehicle's grill looks like the baleen plates on a Blue Whale. It has a 1.6 liter engine, 100kw electric motor, and its lithium ion polymer battery pack has a 40 mile (64 km) range. The panaramic glass roof features solar cells to top off the charge in the batteries and the interior features recycled PET soft drink bottles and bioplastics made from plant extract. Hyundai isn't shy about intimating that the Blue-Will bears plenty in common with the second generation Prius.

Hyundai Blue Will Concept

Then in July, Hyundai's Elantra LPI Hybrid is expected to hit the Korean market. If and when it does, it should become the first mass production vehicle with a lithium ion polymer battery pack, and the first LPG (propane) hybrid as well—among the smartest hybrid combinations yet imagined.

That only covers the first half of 2009. What else might they have in store?

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