Hyundai Motor Company became the latest automaker to formally enter the electric vehicle arena with a car that it plans to start mass producing in 2012. Shown in prototype form at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and based on its gasoline-powered i10 subcompact hatchback model, the all-electric Hyundai BlueOn embodies all of the automaker's latest EV technology. It's slated to begin operational testing next month using a 30-unit fleet that will be evaluated by a number of Korean government agencies with an eye towards developing and testing a recharging infrastructure.

Hyundai says the BlueOn name reflects an amalgam of the automaker's eco-friendly "Blue Drive" strategy and the term "Switch On. Power for the new BlueOn comes from an 81 horsepower electric motor that develops 155 lb.-ft. of torque. It's energized by a compact, lightweight 16.4 kWh lithium ion polymer (Li-Poly) battery pack developed by SK Energy that gives the car an 87-mile range and a top speed of 81 mph. This zero-emissions Hyundai is equipped with a dual-mode charging system that allows the battery to be fully replenished in about six hours using a 220V line or take an 80-percent electron refill in about 25 minutes using a 380V commercial charger.

In announcing plans for the 2012 Hyundai BlueOn, Hyun-Soon Lee, Vice Chairman at Hyundai's Corporate R&D Center, noted that "Consumers' interests and demand for eco-friendly cars are rising and securing such advanced technology is critical in becoming an industry leader. Hyundai is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint and satisfying market needs."

Hyundai has yet to decide exactly where the 2012 BlueOn will be sold when it does go into volume build. However, first-year production of an estimated 2,500 cars is virtually certain to be limited to the domestic market.

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