Hyundai is making the green vehicle race more competitive by offering three powertrain types -- pure electric (EV), hybrid (EV plus combustion engine) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – in one single car. This is a very novel strategy, indeed. While other carmakers create an electrified version of an existing model, the South Korean carmaker created a single platform that could accommodate any of three green powertrains.
This new car from Hyundai is the Ioniq, which will be launched into the auto market across the United States starting next month as an entry for the 2017 model year. The South Korean automaker will first start selling the EV version of the Ioniq in the US by the end of 2016, which would be followed by the hybrid variant in early 2017.
Lastly, the PHEV version will be rolled out to dealers in the US in the third quarter of 2017. In total, Hyundai is planning to launch 28 green vehicles in the US by the end of the decade: eight electric vehicles, 10 hybrids, eight plug-in hybrids, and two powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
During a recent briefing, Michael O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America Vice President of Corporate and Product Planning, remarked that the South Korean carmaker has always known that electrification is the “right way to go,” regardless of what customers look for in a vehicle.
Interestingly, the arrival of the Hyundai Ioniq in the US is bound to change the auto landscape in this global market. The last time we checked, it was Toyota that was comfortably positioned on the top of the non-plug vehicle market with its appealing fuel economy.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has rated the Toyota Prius Eco to be returning fuel economy figures of 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 56 mpg combined – which means that for now, it is still the most fuel-efficient car sold in the US sans a plug.
However, the impending arrival of the hybrid version of the Ioniq would change all that. It would dethrone the Prius with its EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 57 mpg city, 59 mpg highway and 58 mpg combined. O’Brien remarked that Hyundai expects the hybrid to have the highest-volume member among the three new Ioniq powertrains. This hybrid powertrain includes a 1.6-liter direct-injected gas engine providing 104 hp and 109 pound-feet of torque and a 43-hp electric motor mated to a 1.56-kWh lithium ion battery.
Meanwhile, the EV version of the Ioniq – powered by an 88-kW electric motor (120-hp equivalent) mated to a 28-kWh battery pack -- is expected to travel up to an estimated 124 miles (200 kilometers) before having to recharge, which is similar to that of the Chevrolet Bolt. Hyundai, however, is promising to increase the range of the Ioniq EV from 124 miles to over 200 miles (322 km) by 2018. The carmaker said it would disclose the MPGe rating of the Ioniq EV at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.
The Ioniq PHEV, meanwhile, features a 1.6-liter direct-injected gas engine delivering 104 hp and 109 pound-feet of torque as well as a 60-hp electric motor mated to larger 8.9-kWh battery pack that could deliver more than 27 miles of pure-electric range, which is more than the 25-mile all-electric range of the 2017 Prius Prime. Hyundai officials added that that the Ioniq PHEV also boasts of quicker charging time and larger room for cargo.