Hyundai reboots Ioniq as an EV brand, starting with Ioniq 5 crossover in fall 2021

Starting now, the Ioniq name will refer to much more than Hyundai’s long-awaited answer to the Toyota Prius. 

Hyundai announced Monday morning in South Korea that a new Ioniq brand will spawn an entire family of fully electric vehicles that will include production models based on the well-received Prophecy sport-sedan concept and retro-styled 45 EV concept. 

The start of the Ioniq brand “opens a new chapter as a leader in the area of electrified mobility,” according to a release accompanying the announcement. 

Although the rapid growth of Tesla and a corresponding surge in interest for fully electric vehicles in Europe, the U.S., and South Korea—where Tesla recently outsold Hyundai’s own electric cars—isn’t mentioned specifically, Hyundai all but spells it out: that the creation of the brand “is in response to fast-growing market demand and accelerates Hyundai’s plan to lead the global EV market.”

Hyundai 45 concept

Hyundai 45 concept

Within the brand, Hyundai promises ultra-fast charging and spacious interiors, with three new dedicated-EV models to arrive over the next four years. That will include the Ioniq 5, a mid-sized (by global standards) crossover based on the 45 Concept; the Ioniq 6, a sedan based on the Prophecy Concept; and the Ioniq 7, a larger SUV due in early 2024.

Hyundai Prophecy concept

Hyundai Prophecy concept

Although Hyundai didn’t detail the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, those two models could directly rival the Model Y and Model 3, respectively. The crossover concept is about 182 inches long—likely positioning it versus the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, Nissan Ariya, the Model Y and many others. 

All three models will be built on Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform, termed E-GMP, which we’ve reported before has been conceived to enable an 800-volt vehicle architecture for some or all of the vehicles based on it—and charging rates up to 350 kw. In addition to the layout advantages of skipping the space for internal combustion engines, Hyundai says that user interfaces will be simplified and designed to make those aboard feel at ease. 

2020 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

2020 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Hyundai Motor America clarified to Green Car Reports that the new strategy won’t affect how hybrids and plug-in hybrids are presented. The existing lineup of Ioniq models will continue to be sold as Ioniq Electric, Ioniq Plug-In, and Ioniq Hybrid, but from now on the new Ioniq models will follow the numerical nomenclature. 

So for the time being, shoppers will face at least one model with the Ioniq badge—the Ioniq Hybrid—that has no charge port whatsoever. 

Breaking Ioniq out as a brand won’t necessarily mean new showrooms or a dramatically different sales experience—at least not right away. Hyundai will keep Ioniq sales at existing “existing Hyundai distribution channels,” the company confirmed. 

Although Hyundai hasn’t yet talked volume for these cars—definitely a sore spot that’s led to supply-limited dealer markups for Hyundai’s current EVs like the Kona Electric—these cars appear to signal a new era for the U.S. Hyundai Motor America confirmed to Green Car Reports that the Ioniq 5 will arrive in the U.S. in fall 2021, and the Ioniq 6 will follow in 2022.  

Hyundai announces Ioniq brand dedicated to EVs

Hyundai announces Ioniq brand dedicated to EVs

Hyundai has given plenty of signals that from here on, it’s different. The Hyundai Motor Group as a whole aims to sell 1 million battery electric vehicles annually by 2025, to become the global leader in EVs. Hyundai itself—partly or mostly via the Ioniq brand—targets 560,000 of those sales. 

Kia confirmed earlier this year that it’s vying for 500,000 annual EV sales by that year. Its first dedicated EV—expected to be a close cousin of the production crossover based on the 45 concept—will arrive in the U.S. by the end of 2021.

Hyundai also said that it is undergoing a transformation as “a Smart Mobility Solution Provider with zero-emissions solutions.” 

Whether that means more investment in people-movers, ride-hailing, car-sharing ventures—or hydrogen fuel-cell applications—that’s all forthcoming.

Don’t get your hopes up about a subscription program, though. In the U.S., the Ioniq Electric originally launched under a subscription plan that was all-inclusive (including insurance, public charging privileges, and even reimbursement for title and registration). It discontinued that program in 2018, citing “a whole range of factors,” but then said that it was “studying other options.” Hyundai told us again this week that it has no intent to bring back such a program.

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