Hyundai Admits 110-Mile Hyundai IONIQ EV Is a Stop Gap Measure Until A Longer-Range Model Arrives In 2018

When Hyundai announced its intent to bring the all-electric IONIQ to market with a range of just 110-miles per charge, we were a little more than disappointed, postulating that the car’s expected 110-mile EPA range would be no match for the upcoming 238-mile per charge 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and 220+ mile Tesla Model 3 electric sedan.

The 2107 Hyundai IONIQ EV will be replaced by a longer-range model for 2018

The 2107 Hyundai IONIQ EV will be replaced by a longer-range model for 2018

While 110-miles of range per charge places the Hyundai IONIQ EV on par with the 2017 Nissan LEAF — a car which is now starting to look extremely long in the tooth as it is essentially the same car Nissan launched back in 2010 — Hyundai has already admitted that launching a brand-new car with just 110 miles of range isn’t enough to secure it any meaningful place in the electric car marketplace long-term. Indeed, back in May, Byung Ki Ahn, Hyundai’s director of eco-vehicle performance, promised that Hyundai had plans to launch a new electric car in 2018 with a range of 200 miles per charge, followed by an electric car in 2020 with a range of 250 miles per charge.

Unlike most EVs, the Hyundai IONIQ EV's batteries are stored under the rear seats.

Unlike most EVs, the Hyundai IONIQ EV’s batteries are stored under the rear seats.

At the time, Byung Ki Ahn didn’t detail specifics, but in an interview this week with Automotive News (Subscription required) the South Korean executive disclosed that the 2018 electric car alluded to earlier this year is in fact a 200-mile variant of the recently-launched IONIQ EV rather than a brand-new model. While it’s not clear if it would be sold alongside a shorter-range Hyundai IONIQ EV, the 200-mile Hyundai IONIQ EV would certainly make the IONIQ EV a cross-shop against the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Tesla Model 3 and upcoming next-generation Nissan LEAF.

But by promising a longer-range version of the Hyundai IONIQ EV in less than two years’ time, Hyundai could also risk jeopardizing sales of the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV. And that, if we’re honest, makes us wonder why Hyundai isn’t just launching the IONIQ EV with 200-miles of range at the outset.

The reason for not doing so is most likely practical. Instead of placing the battery pack under the floor between the wheels (as most custom-built electric cars like the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model S/X and 3 do) the Hyundai IONIQ EV actually places its battery pack in a space underneath the rear seats and in-between the rear wheels.

That’s partly because the Hyundai IONIQ’s chassis has been designed to accommodate electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains — but it has the unfortunate side effect of leaving limited space for larger-capacity battery packs. In order to extend the IONIQ EV’s range, Hyundai is faced with a choice: to wait a few more years until a more energy-dense battery pack is available from its battery partner LG Chem; or develop a battery pack that can be squeezed into the central tunnel that passes between the rear seats and under the vehicle floor.

Will the 200-mile IONIQ EV hurt 2017 IONIQ EV sales? Yes, most certainly.

Will the 200-mile IONIQ EV hurt 2017 IONIQ EV sales? Yes, most certainly.

Both are possible, but the former is the most cost-effective solution, even if it kills Hyundai IONIQ EV sales between now and then.

Do you think Hyundai made a smart move to launch a limited-range electric car a few years before promising a 200+ mile variant will be available? Or do you think that the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ EV is something of a test for the company as a whole to practice its electric vehicle technology before entering the market more competitively in a few years time?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.



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  • Matt Beard

    I like the Ioniq (though I wish the front was not so plasticy. However I am currently put off by a few things. A biggy is the dealer network used in Scotland, which has very poor customer service (but many brands suffer the same), but even that could be excused if it wasn’t for the poor range v. price ratio.

    • Thermostat9

      I like (what I have seen reported) of the Ioniq a lot. Quite impressed the local dealer contacted me within hours of asking to be sent a brochure on the UK importers website to tell me they would be getting the Electric early in 2017. Fine by me, as I’m looking forward to a test drive in the cold of February to really test the range – but the price will have to be very keen to be worth buying if a new model is already planned! Although used/demo/pre-reg might be keen……

      • Martin Lacey

        Keeping your options open and test driving everything is a smart move! Fullychargedshow test drove it on their youtube page and highly rated it.

  • Chris O

    EVs evolve at a remarkable pace and carmakers who figured that the next step up from 80 miles of range was 120 miles or thereabouts clearly completely miscalculated, their offerings rendered obsolete by cars like Bolt and Model 3 before they even entered the market. Not just Hyundai for that matter, VW, BMW, Ford and even Nissan are finding themselves stuck with what appears to be a lost generation of ~120 mile EVs.

    Nor should they think that a bigger battery is all it takes to catch up, the consumer is going to expect the “supercharger” infrastructure to quick charge their big battery cars quickly too or they still will not be able to compete with Tesla.

    BTW: Ioniq EV is capable of 100KW charging vs Bolt’s 50KW charging so beyond their base range both cars have similar capabilities being capable of charging~90 miles of range in 30 minutes.

  • Electric Bill

    The EV market going forward can be expected to be a messy affair, especially among car makers who don’t really want to be making EVs. Note that even though the Bolt is a wholly satisfying entry in the marketplace, being seemingly fully capable of going nose-to-nose with simularly priced contenders both ICE AND EV, someone in Chevy is still pulling their punches: they are still trying to aggressively promote their own ICE cars that sell in the same market, such as the Chevy Impala, Malibu, Camaro, Cruz, and even the Volt.

    I have a strong hunch that when a prospective buyer strolls into a Chevy dealer, when first engaged by a saleperson, if the customer himself does not mention his preference in EVs, that saleperson is likely to direct them to ICE cars first and likely not even mention EVs at all.

    ICE cars have always been the dealer’s lifeblood, providing repeat business with tune-ups, oil changes, tranny service, brake service, and other maintenance and diagnostics not necessary (or even possible) with EVs.

    EVs, of course, provide nearly no income going forward until such a time as the battery pack needs replacing, which can be several years to the future. Whether it be conscious or not, salespeople, advertising departments and execs can be expected to do whatever is most satisfying for the bottom line: and ICE cars are the most expensive to keep running, even if they are not the most expensive upfront (for the time being).

    This will not likely change until EVs have a demonstrable, clear-cut advantage in range, convenience, up-front pricing, etc… and yes, more and more lately, I continue to hear hints that the EVs offered in the near future may have ranges significantly greater than that of ICE cars— maybe a thousand miles, maybe even more. And when EV sticker prices drop below that of ICE cars— and that does seem inevitable— it will be interesting to see how that affects which vehicles the salespeople will direct their shoppers toward.

    I expect EV conversions to become a major part of the equation at some point. People who spend several tens of thousands of dollars for an ICE car who just weeks or months later might feel duped when seeing the far more practical EVs with otherwise similar prices and features.

    • marco

      I can see that. Next 5 years in EV market will definitely be interesting to watch.

      I think GM made a huge blunder with the Bolt. If they stuffed all that EV tech into something like the new Malibu ( or any of their compact SUVs), they would have a hard time making enough of them to satisfy a crazed amount of buyers trampling each-other.

  • Martin Lacey

    Fullychargedshow test drove the Ioniq on their youtube channel and reckons it excedes 110 on a full charge. EPA rating is 124 miles. Where do you get 110 miles from?

  • Filip

    I think the current 28kWh ioniq will be a great car and sell fairly well for now. Better than nothing. I also hope they will sell both the 28 and 50kWh model alongside eachother in a year from now. Options for the customer is great.

  • Electric Bill

    The scramble for bigger battery packs and faster charges sounds ever so much like the early days of PC RAM, HDs, floppy drives, etc.

    Back then, no one had an inkling that HDs, SSDs, non-volatile memory tech would give us fingernail-size chips could one day store terabytes of data and operate at unimaginable speeds.

    One of my first PCs, a 286 had a 47 MB hard drive. When upgrading the floppy drive I plugged the ribbon cable in up-side-down, blowing out the tiny hard drive. It cost me $200. to get it fixed—long story short, within a day or two I was, seeing hard drives with many times more capacity, just as the memory did as well. Today, my cell phone is millions of times faster, more capacity, tinier, cheaper and more convenient.

    I fully expect similar quantum leaps in the metrics of battery capacity, charging speed and size, and perhaps other tech that we have yet to even imagine. The advancements are likely to come much slower that Moore’s Law, at least at first. But nanotech layering, and programming viruses and bacteria to create batteries via organic that can operate at near-superconducting efficiencies and create batteries capable of powering vehicles nearly as cheap as a Christmas fruitcake. At that point we would not have to compromise between range, price, weight and power–we’ll be able to have our cake and eat it, too.

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