Hyundai said on Wednesday that its entire product lineup in the United States would average at least 50 miles per gallon by 2025 — somehow. That would be an improvement of about 60 percent from the ratings of the cars and trucks Hyundai sells today.
Hyundai Motor America’s chief executive, John Krafcik, acknowledged that the goal was a stretch, but said he was “very confident” the company could reach it.
“We don’t know precisely how to get there right now,” he said, speaking here at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars. “We do have a road map.”
Mr. Krafcik said Hyundai expected to mostly use technologies available today with modifications to minimize fuel consumption. He said the company envisioned a 2025 lineup in which 75 to 80 percent of vehicles still ran on traditional gas engines. He said 15 to 20 percent would be hybrids or hybrid plug-ins, and 5 percent would run on fuel cells or batteries.
Hyundai already is the nation’s fuel-economy leader, with an average rating of 30.9 miles per gallon in 2008, the most recent year for which the Environmental Protection Agency has released ratings. That compares with ratings of 30.1 for Honda, 29 for Toyota and about 24 for all three Detroit automakers.
By 2016, the United States will require automakers to have an average rating of at least 35.5 miles per gallon under rules created last year.
“We want to lead the industry in fuel efficiency,” Mr. Krafcik said. “We’re doing it now. We want to help set the trajectory for the industry.”
Hyundai has been heavily focused on improving the fuel economy of its newest models, offering the 2011 Sonata sedan with only a 4-cylinder engine and no option to choose a more powerful V-6. By doing so, it was able to cut 130 pounds from the car’s weight.
Hyundai will introduce a hybrid version of the Sonata — its first hybrid in the United States — this fall.
Mr. Krafcik noted that a carmaker’s corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE rating, is calculated in such a way that the numbers shown on vehicles’ window stickers are about 20 percent less. So a CAFE rating of 50 miles per gallon would require combined city-and-highway sticker ratings of about 40.
But in order to average 50 miles per gallon through the whole lineup, he said some vehicles would need to be rated at 60 m.p.g. or above in order to balance out less efficient models.
Mr. Krafcik also said he believed Hyundai could sell more than 500,000 vehicles in the United States this year for the first time ever. In the first six months, it sold 255,782.