Earlier this year at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, South Korean automaker Hyundai unveiled the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ: a brand-new model for the brand designed from the ground up to be offered with only hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric drivetrains.
A family friendly hatchback, the IONIQ has been designed from the ground up to compete against hybrids like the Toyota Prius, plug-in hybrids like the 2017 Chevrolet Volt and electric cars like the 2016 Nissan LEAF in one fell swoop. Rather than beat these established models with extraordinary leaps in fuel efficiency or range per charge however, Hyundai appears to have opted for the safer option, matching the Prius in terms of thermal efficiency and estimated fuel economy (official gas mileage figures have yet to be approved) and 2016 Nissan LEAF in terms of overall range.
How does it intend to gain customers if the IONIQ is fairly evenly matched against existing, established cars? Price.
At least, that’s what it appears after Hyundai published official pricing for the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid (£19,995) and Hyundai IONIQ EV (£28,995, before incentives) in the UK yesterday. Not only is it undercutting the sterling price of the established Toyota Prius hybrid by £3,300 with its IONIQ Hybrid but it is also going for the jugular against the Nissan LEAF, pricing the IONIQ EV just £5 more per month than the mid-spec 2016 Nissan LEAF Acenta with 30 kWh battery. While there are cheaper, more affordable LEAF models on sale in the UK, the Acenta 30 kWh is the entry-level longer-range LEAF capable in an EPA-approved 107 miles per charge (155 miles NEDC). And the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ, we note, is expected to have an EPA-range of around 110 miles per charge, or as close to the LEAF as makes no real difference.
For both Toyota and Nissan then, Hyundai’s message is clear: it wants the market segment currently dominated by the two Japanese automakers.
In terms of power, the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid produces just over 103 horsepower and 108.5 pound feet of torque from its four-cylinder 1.6-litre GDi engine, while the small 32-kilowatt electric motor embedded into its transmission adds an additional 125 pound feet of torque. While both engine and electric motor are a little less powerful than the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine an 72-kilowatt electric motor found in the current 2016 Toyota Prius, Hyundai says the IONIQ Hybrid should equal the popular hybrid on the road thanks to a thermal efficiency that matches the Prius’ engine.
Obviously, the fuel economy of the Hyundai IONIQ has yet to be officially confirmed, and it’s likely that the Toyota Prius may keep its edge on the IONIQ Hybrid when it comes to overall miles per gallon. But while the styling of the recently launched 2017 Toyota Prius hybrid is pretty polarizing thanks to its high double waist, angular tail and fussy front lights, the Hyundai IONIQ looks particularly mainstream in its design, with a slightly more approachable, traditional design than the Prius.
The IONIQ’s business-like lines may also win the IONIQ EV some fans among those who dislike the Nissan LEAF’s chibi nose and oversized headlights. Meanwhile its more conventional interior may also win it fans among those who like their gauges and dials a little more traditional. In terms of performance, while Hyundai hasn’t published official performance data, the IONIQ EV may also have a slight edge on the current-generation LEAF, thanks to its more powerful 87-kilowatt electric motor. It also features CCS quick charging over CHAdeMO, a feature which could win it some fans in certain key markets where CCS is being rolled out in preference to the Japanese quick charge standard.
Sadly, the Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid won’t be launched until after the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid and Hyundai IONIQ EV have launched, but given the costing for the IONIQ Hybrid and IONIQ EV, we’re guessing Hyundai’s target price will be somewhere between £24,995 and £26,995 before incentives.
What does this all mean for the rest of the world? Given the rapidly falling value of Pounds Sterling against many major currencies in the light of the recent Brexit vote, it’s tough to give real, meaningful dollar-for-pound translations at the current time. But based on what we know of the UK car market — and how it translates to U.S. prices, we’d suggest that Hyundai will probably price the Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid in the U.S. somewhere between $21,000 and $23,000, while we’d estimate the U.S. market Hyundai IONIQ EV will cost somewhere in the region of $29,995 to $33,000 before incentives.
The Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid and IONIQ EV will launch later this year in Europe and the U.S., so expect more information in the coming months as these two models prepare for market debut.
In the meantime, we’re curious to know what you think about the IONIQ Hybrid and IONIQ EV. Is Hyundai being smart in trying to beat the competition on price rather than specifications, especially given the impending arrival of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and its 200-mile range this fall? Do you think customers will want a 100+ mile electric car if there’s a 200+ mile one available for a little more? Or do you think Hyundai’s IONIQ EV is nothing more than a compliance car offering to satisfy zero emission regulation?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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