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Hyundai to develop ‘long-distance’ electric car in effort to compete with Tesla

South Korean car manufacturing colossus Hyundai has confirmed that it is currently working on developing a 'long distance' electric car in an effort to compete with Tesla and other rivals in the electric automotive sector.

In a statement issued by Hyundai this week, the conglomerate declared that it was now placing electric vehicles at the center of its product strategy, which represents a strategic shift from the company. It had previously championed fuel cell technology as the future of eco-friendly vehicles. However, that viewpoint has now been altered due to a combination of Tesla's success - and the Chinese government's decision to introduce initiatives which support battery-powered cars.

Hyundai's main focus is now developing and deploying a long distance, fast-charging electric vehicle according to sources close to the organization and local media outlets in South Korea. Earlier this year, the car manufacturer announced its plans to launch an electric sedan under its fabled Genesis brand in 2021, boasting capabilities of 500km (310 miles) per charge. In addition to this, it also disclosed plans to introduce an electric version of its Kona small sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a range of 390km in the first-half of next year.

Hyundai Executive Vice-President, Lee Kwang-guk claimed that the company was concentrating its focus on developing 'eco-friendly cars'. He said, "We're strengthening our eco-friendly car strategy, centering on electric vehicles."

Hyundai's affiliate car manufacturer Kia Motors Corp which together rank fifth overall in the world for vehicle sales also declared that they intended on adding three plug-in vehicles to their plans for eco-friendly cars, which would bring the overall total to 31 models by 2020.

Hyundai also revealed its plan to develop its first dedicated electric vehicle platform which would enable the car manufacturer to produce multiple models with longer driving ranges. Twelve months ago, Hyundai launched its first mass-market pure electric car which was entitled the IONIQ, but the vehicle's per-charge driving range is significantly less than offerings from rivals such as Tesla and GM.

Hyundai has unveiled a near production version of its new fuel cell SUV, which boasts a driving range of more than 800km per-charge under European standards, that figure is nearly double the 415km for its Tucson fuel cell SUV. The SUV will be deployed in South Korea early next year, and will enter the European and US markets thereafter.

Lee Hang-Koo, a senior research fellow at Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said, "Hyundai will achieve fuel cell economies of scale by 2035 at the earliest. Before that, Hyundai has no choice but to rely on battery cars."