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.

    • Marcelo Pacheco

      Agreed. But its only a matter of time until 1/3 of the population knows that EVs are good and cheap to drive. It won’t take long until they want EVs. Right now Lithium Ion supply is so limited it would be utter chaos if everybody starts to ask for an EV now.
      Beyond the 1/3 more open minded population, the rest 2/3 will take time.
      If most cabs/uber/lyft go EV it would be hugely helpful. When people notice there’s no engine noise. Acceleration is brisk. And ask what is that…
      Besides, the same Lithium cell shortage also makes less aerodynamic vehicles like pickups too expensive for now.
      Lets not forget the Tesla Model S/X phenomenon that went from zero to highest sold premium vehicle in the USA in just a few years. With near zero ads. I bet the Model 3/Y will be the same on middle class hoods. Just a matter of time until one million proud Model 3 owners are giving test drives to everybody they know, and in a flash we’ll have demand from 10 million cars (1% of cars in circulation). Meanwhile Nissan, GM, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, … will have to follow suit and try to follow the trend.

      • Electric Bill

        Marcelo: fractions such as 1/3 or whatever are rather meaningless. If there us enough spent by the wrong parties, e.g., the Koch Brothers who recently were bold enough to say they were putting up $10 million to discourage EV purchases and to give EVs a bad public image, even if EV ownership hit 1/3, lots of bad press and self minded lawmakers invested in petroleum could seriously slow EV acceptance.

        It could happen much sooner if there are enough celebrities and power holders such as politicians and industrialists to trigger major societal shifts.

        Major support from individuals such as Elon Musk, Carlos Ghosn, Bob Lutz, Leonardo Dicaprio, Chris Paine, Tom Hanks, Chelsea Sexton and Bill Nye have resulted in a huge boost in EV ownership; Musk was certainly the most influential, but without Lutz and Ghosn, we would not have the Bolt or the Leaf today.

        The effect of one such person, or the negative impact of someone such as Trump (if he leans the wrong way as it seems at present), can sway millions.

        I have been driving an EV with Lyft for the last couple of weeks in a way similar to what you say… I show them pictures of my other EVs, chat with the riders about them, and give
        them business cards and tell them they can give me a call any time they have any questions about EVs. I have gotten some negative feedback, but lots of positive responses and sizeable tips.

        You are mistaken about truck EVs. Trucks are typically on the road much more than cars are, so the extra investment for such vehicles is actually more cost-effectivr than money spent on cars that are only used for a few hours a week. I have a Chevy pickup truck EV conversion I have brought to events all over Southern California and have gotten enthusiastic response from high schools, colleges, chambers of commerce, trade schools and special events. The attachments show a couple of the EVs I use for this purpose.

        Tesla has spent NO money at all on advertisments.

        As for the “shortage of lithium ion”, it is about more than just that single chemistry—competing chemistries and battery form factors are also part of the mix, and may be several such different cell types that together meet the demand from the EV market— check out cell types such as nanotitanate… and ceramic nanopore, which is being developed at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. The nanopore design is probably the most radical and exciting battery type yet.

        Click on the image files below.

        • Marcelo Pacheco

          Koch anti EV propaganda has no effect on open minded people. The early adopters. They won’t fall for it. Right now EV production is just about 1% of worldwide car production. And its growing organically, word of mouth, customer to customer conversations.
          Ultimately this propaganda will be effect, having at best a temporary effect. The facts will speak much louder than lies.
          Of course the 1/3 number is totally made up. But the basic concept has already been proven with the Tesla Model S/X. The same will happen with the Model 3. Once Model 3 production is ramped up to a half a million cars/yr for a few years, everybody in North America, Europe, will be able to get a test drive and find out for himself what it is about.
          There is no shortage of lithium battery raw materials. The shortage is of manufacturing capacity… Even a fully ramped up GigaFactory with the revised capacity (150GWh/yr) is still peanuts just to keep up with PowerPack/PowerWall demand and the existing Model 3 backlog. By then Model S+X should be selling at least 50% more than today.

  • 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.

    • I’m with you on that and when combined with the standard 100kW CCS charging capability, the 28kWh offering is actually pretty decent.

      • Filip

        Yeah and now that I’ve threat driven the car I can say it really is a great car. And you can easily go 110 miles even on the motor way. And if you drive on a slower highway or on a cross country road 170 miles is definitely feasible.

        The new Zoe that has 40kwh but it only goes about 15 percent longer on one charge. kWh is far from everything. Ioniq with at least 70kwh is something completely different than the 22kw Zoe sold at most places.

  • 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.

  • Marcelo Pacheco

    The world needs at least 3 cheap EVs. Perhaps Tesla Model 3, Leaf and Ioniq ? That’s an excellent start.
    By forcing every car maker that used to say hydrogen is the future into an EV maker, Tesla is finally starting to achieve its goal, since it cannot switch us to sustainable transport alone.

    Hopefully by 2020 all of those EVs will offer 200 mile/300 Km range minimum.

  • Electric Bill

    It must be such a spectacular car to have inspired Alanis Morissette’s hit song, “Isn’t it Ioniq?”… wouldn’t you agree?!

  • olephart

    The Ioniq plug in hybrid would be vastly improved with an optional upgraded battery pack. A range of 30 miles doesn’t cut it for someone wanting an EV. A range of 60 to 100 miles is much more useful and would suffice for a large percentage of vehicle use. A hybrid getting 55 plus mpg would negate the need for a separate car for long trips.

  • Shirley Marquez Dulcey

    Hyundai needed a compliance vehicle right away. So they rushed the Ioniq EV to market with the small battery pack while they do the additional engineering to make the longer range version. They’ll make enough of them to keep the California regulators happy and will probably make little effort to sell them elsewhere.

    For now, the hybrid will be the 50 state play. If Hyundai delivers the extended range version next year, 2018 will be a wealth of riches for EV buyers on a budget – the updated Ioniq, the already available Chevy Bolt, Tesla’s Model 3, and the next generation Nissan Leaf. Next challenge: more charging stations!

    • Marcelo Pacheco

      110mile/178km range is plenty for a LOT of people in the world.
      For instance here in Brazil imported cars pay 110% in import duties. Due to that and currency exchange ratios, even upper middle class cannot afford a Tesla, not even a Model 3 !
      At the same time, for my household, we would be very, very happy with an Ioniq as one of our cars.
      99% of the Kms we drive are well within the range of the current Ioniq.
      Would love to buy an Ioniq once its available for purchase here (imported or locally built, Hyundai has local production in Brazil).
      We need US$ 20k EVs, before subsidies (Brazil doesn’t offer any EV subsidies).

      • Shirley Marquez Dulcey

        I was mostly talking about the US market in my comment. I don’t know if any other countries have the notion of compliance vehicles; cars that are offered to specific submarkets to satisfy legal requirements. And limited range cars have not been a big success here.

        The open question right now is whether longer range cars that aren’t made by Tesla will be hits. So far the only one available, the Chevy Bolt, has not taken the country by storm. Sales thus far in the US are only about 1,000 cars per month, though it is only available in 8 states so far (six more are being added this month) and it’s not clear to what extent production limits are a factor.

  • Markus Hypermiler

    What the heck are 110 miles ?? Please give it to us, REST OF THE WORLD, in kilometers…

    Also: do you realize that, except for the bloody UK and US, ALL THE REST OF THE PLANET USES KILOMETERS ????