Hyundai is gearing up to mass-produce electric buses, according to a report from South Korea’s ET News. The buses would be powered by two 51kWh batteries, and capable of traveling around 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) on a single charge. The South Korean automaker reportedly plans to ramp up development in 2017 with a goal of working the buses into fleets in the company’s homeland as well as in China.
The batteries in Hyundai’s buses will likely come from LG, according to ET News. LG makes the lithium-ion batteries that power the Chevy Bolt, and also recently signed a deal to provide the batteries for secretive EV startup Faraday Future. Its biggest competitor, Panasonic, has pumped tons of money into making the batteries for Tesla’s cars — it even produces them at the newly opened Tesla Gigafactory.
Hyundai Motor Group’s former sister company, Hyundai Heavy Industries, helped roll out the first commercial electric bus service back in 2010. Hyundai Motor Group has instead focused on producing hydrogen fuel cell buses.
ET News reports that Hyundai was planning to mass-produce electric buses as early as 2014, but postponed the effort because of “marketability.” Electric vehicles have, however, increased in popularity over the last few years thanks to the likes of Tesla. That Hyundai is interested in pulling the trigger now is a sign that the company believes — much like the auto industry at large — that there is finally money to be made. One research firm even thinks the market could be over $100 billion by 2026.
Like those competitors, Hyundai has been steadily increasing its interests in electrification across the board. The company makes hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the popular Sonata sedan, and a fuel cell version of the Tucson SUV. This year the company released the Ioniq, which is available as an electric, plug-in hybrid or a traditional hybrid. And just this week Gyoo-Heon Choi, the president of Hyundai’s motorsports division, expressed interest in joining Formula E, the first global all-electric racing series.