Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. expect to introduce hybrid models in the U.S. late next year, a Hyundai executive says. The Korean automaker had not expected the U.S. launch until after 2007.

The first hybrid models will be Hyundai's Accent and Kia's Rio. Both small cars have been redesigned for the advanced power option. The companies already produce these hybrid models for the Korean market. By 2008 or early 2009, they expect to produce larger models with hybrid power.

Hyundai developed its own hybrid technology but buys batteries from Panasonic EV Energy Co., Japan. The company sees little potential for hybrids in Europe where its emphasis is diesels. And it does not expect to sell hybrids in China, the executive says, because the focus there is still on low-cost basic transportation.