SEOUL, Mar. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — Hyundai, Kia, and Renault Samsung are scrambling to compete in the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) vehicle market that has recently been made available to ordinary consumers.
Hyundai Motor Co., in particular, decided to release an LPG model of the all-new Sonata. The company, however, decided against selling the new model to taxi companies.
LPG, known to be more affordable than gasoline or diesel fuel, is expected to appeal strongly to consumers.
Hyundai Motor plans to release an LPG model of the new Sonata before the third quarter of this year, while Renault Samsung Motors Corp. will be introducing the QM6, South Korea’s first LPG-fueled sports utility vehicle.
Kia Motors Corp. is currently looking into plans to include an LPG model of the K5 in its new lineup scheduled to be revealed in the second half of this year.
By introducing LPG models of their bestselling vehicles, the three companies are expected to revive the LPG vehicle market that has been shrinking due to a lack of new models.
LPG sedans, the most popular model in the LPG market, are popular among taxi companies and car rental businesses, but sales dropped 14.7 percent last year for a total of 62,725 cars.
Hyundai Motor has decided not to sell the LPG model of the new Sonata to taxi companies to break free from the once common perception that the Sonata is ‘a car for cabs,’ and to show that it is a quality model with a strong appeal for ordinary consumers.
“There was no thought of developing a taxi model for the 8th-generation Sonata since the beginning,” said an official at Hyundai Motor.
“As for the taxis, we plan to continue manufacturing the Sonata New Rise at the Asan Plant.”
Hyundai Motor also has replaced the typical cylinder LPG tank with a donut-shaped tank that maximizes trunk space in the new Sonata.
The donut-shaped LPG tank was jointly developed by Renault Samsung and the Korea LPG Association, and is small enough to fit in the space initially designed for a spare tire.
It expands trunk space by more than 40 percent and lowers center of gravity to maximize driving satisfaction.
Renault Samsung has been developing an LPG model of the QM6 ever since LPG SUVs were made available to the public after relevant restrictions were lifted in October 2017.
The new QM6 is scheduled to be released before the third quarter of this year, and will become the first LPG SUV to be sold in South Korea.
On the other hand, other major automakers in South Korea, including GM Korea Co. and SsangYong Motor Co. said they have no plans to release LPG models.
“General Motors plans to downsize production of vehicles with internal combustion engines and focus on the expansion of eco-friendly cars, so there are no plans for us to release any LPG vehicles,” GM Korea said.
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)