Both Ford and Hyundai have been reported to be developing vehicles to dethrone the Toyota Prius as the leader in the hybrid gasoline-electric car market.
Ford is planning to launch a new hybrid car in late 2018 as the car company's first dedicated hybrid, which is a vehicle that is designed exclusively as a hybrid car and not as a variation on a gasoline-only model such as the Ford Fusion hybrid.
Hyundai, on the other hand, has been caught testing what seem to be hybrid prototypes.
Ford's planned hybrid, which is currently unnamed, may eventually offer many different body variations, such as what Toyota does for the Prius. Sources say that there could be many versions of the vehicle's gasoline-electric drive train, which would include a plug-in model that can replenish its charge through any electrical outlet.
Ford is looking to release the new hybrid as a 2019 model, which will be about 21 years since the launch of the original Toyota Prius in Japan. Toyota is already working to announce its fourth-generation Prius in the late months of next year.
The new hybrid car will be built in Ford's Wayne assembly plant, located in southeastern Michigan, just outside of Detroit. Annual unit production will be about 120,000 vehicles for the new hybrid.
Hyundai's version of the hybrid car that is being poised to challenge the dominance of the Prius was spotted to be undergoing testing in the desert by Auto Guide. The powertrain for the hybrid was being tested with Elantra GT mules, with a total of four vehicles with different variations of body modifications. The modifications hint of the new model, rather than just a hybrid version of the Elantra.
Hyundai previously sold a gasoline-electric version of the Sonata in the United States in 2011 before pulling the plug on its production and replaced by the Sonata Eco. The new hybrid from Hyundai could very well be the latest version of the Blue Will Concept, which the car company unveiled back in 2010.
Ford, Hyundai and other global car companies have been making huge investment in hybrid car technology to be able to pass the increasingly strict standards for emissions and fuel economy in North America, Asia and Europe. However, demand for the hybrid cars from consumers is nowhere near the sales projections for the industry.
Prius has remained the best-selling hybrid vehicle in international markets, with global sales reaching over 400,000 units last year.