SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA --- Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group said July 2 that the company is confident about sales prospects for its first couple of hybrid models that are about to hit the market in Korea, the Korea Times reported.

"The hybrid editions of the Avante and Forte sedans have sufficient competitiveness as the world's first liquefied petroleum injection (LPI) hybrid products,'' Lee Ki-sang, Hyundai-Kia's vice president of hybrid vehicle development, told reporters during a press conference at the automaker's Seoul headquarters. "Hyundai-Kia expects to secure an edge in technologies on eco-friendly vehicles with the successful release of these models."

At the conference, Hyundai-Kia made a presentation about the two vehicles and discussed global research and development of hybrid vehicles.

Park Dong-chul, director of the Korea Automotive Research Institute, said competition in the segment is heating up as governments back their nation's efforts to gain a foothold.

"Predictions used to prevail that the market would contract amid the global financial crisis, but the competition is intensifying around these eco-friendly vehicles,'' Park said. "That means Korea needs to pay more attention to this. Consequently, the importance of securing independent technologies is becoming a key issue in the business.''

Hyundai and its affiliate Kia plan to launch their first commercial hybrid models in tandem. Following the debut of Hyundai's Avante LPI this month, Kia plans to introduce the Forte LPI compact sedan in August, the Korea Times reported.

Hyundai and Kia's hybrid products are powered by liquid petroleum gas and lithium polymer batteries. Both models are equipped with an LPI engine, which generates 114 horsepower, and a 15-kilowatt electric motor. The Avante LPI runs 17.8 kilometer per liter of fuel.

Meanwhile, in the July 6 issue of Automotive News, Hyundai-Kia R&D President Yang Woong-chul confirmed that a new plug-in hybrid sports sedan, based upon the Blue-Will concept unveiled at the Seoul Auto Show in April, will come to the United States by the end of 2012.