Hyundai announced last year that the hybrid and battery electric versions of the Ioniq would go on sale in America during the winter. The Ioniq will offer customers three power train choices — a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a battery electric. Winter is with us for another 6 weeks, according to the calendar. Mike O’Brien, vice president-product planning for Hyundai Motor America, says the Ioniq Hybrid and Electric will go on sale next week.
O’Brien says, “Our focus was on developing a great compact car that happens to be electrified. There were around 1.1 million buyers who shopped for an EV last year, but because of cost or maintenance or durability…or that they felt the car was too under powered…they didn’t buy one. We are offering a no-excuse electrified vehicle that measures up to compact vehicles in the segment.”
It is that a way of responding to Elon Musk’s challenge to other manufacturers to build “compelling” electric cars? It sure sounds like it. Prices for the Ioniq Electric have not been announced. That information will be coming along shortly, but the price will likely undercut other similar cars by a significant margin. Hyundai’s corporate sibling, Kia, has priced its new Niro Hybrid thousands less than a comparable Prius or Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid. The Kia Niro starts at around $22,000.
O’Brien says the Ioniq Electric will undergo a “soft launch” for now. A more robust marketing campaign is planned for later in March. One way Hyundai will keep the price of its new electric car low is by limiting the size of its battery to 28 kWh. So equipped, it earns a 150 MPGe rating from the EPA — which makes it the most energy efficient car sold in the US. The Toyota Prius Prime is next with a rating of 133 MPGe.
Officially, range for the Ioniq is listed as 135 miles city, 110 miles highway, and 124 miles combined. Is that going to be a problem for consumers? It shouldn’t be. The average US driver only goes less than 50 miles a day, meaning the Ioniq Electric will have more than enough range for the needs of most drivers. Dedicated Tesla fan Bjorn Nyland test drove one recently in Europe and gave it a rave review, calling it almost as good as his Tesla in some respects.
Still, people seem to have the notion that they “need” 200 miles of range, just as many believe they absolutely “need” the power of a V8 engine. But if the Ioniq Electric is indeed competitive with the price of other compact cars, that objection may be easily overcome.