Hyundai All-In On EV Research and Development
The South Korean manufacturer is poised to become one of the industry’s EV leaders with new world-class products.
South Korean automaker Hyundai Motors was founded in 1967 but didn’t begin selling cars in the U.S. until 1986. For the next 20 years, the cars produced by the company always seemed to be about three years behind the equivalent Toyota or Honda models from Japan, but as these were some of the best available at the time, and Hyundai prices were much cheaper, the company carved out a niche. As the quality and design of the Korean automaker’s cars improved, they eventually caught up with the best that the Japanese firms could offer. In 2022, Hyundai ranked third in global sales, behind Toyota and Volkswagen.
Image used courtesy of Hyundai
Hyundai has six research and development centers in South Korea, Germany, Japan, and India and a center in California to develop designs specifically for the U.S. market. Hyundai’s first North American plant was opened in Alabama in 2005. Hyundai also owns a third of South Korean carmaker Kia, which operates a plant in the U.S. in Georgia, and in late 2016 also spun off a luxury brand called Genesis.
Electric Vehicle Opportunities
A crisis can present unexpected opportunities, and the rapid change of the auto industry from fossil fuels to electrification is proving to be a crisis for some. Hyundai was among the first of the major automakers to recognize the opportunities that could exist in being an electric vehicle (EV) pioneer and jumped into the market in 2017 with its Ioniq Electric. This compact five-passenger, five-door sedan offered a 28 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery and a 124-mile range on a charge. In 2019 the battery size was increased to 38.3 kWh, and the range improved to 174 miles. It was a good start in the EV market and continued to be available in the U.S. until 2022.
Next up, in 2018, was the Kona Electric subcompact crossover utility vehicle (CUV). The Kona Electric debuted in the U.S. in 2019 and was available with a 258-mile range when equipped with an optional 64 kWh battery. A second generation of the Kona Electric was released in December 2022 with a range of 304 miles for the Electric Long-Range version.
2022 also saw the introduction of the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 from Hyundai. The Ioniq 5 is a compact electric CUV in single-motor rear-wheel-drive and dual-motor all-wheel-drive configurations. An optional 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack gives a 299-mile range.
Inside the Ioniq 5, the dashboard uses two 12-inch screens—one of which serves as the instrument display and the other for the infotainment system. Much of the interior is made from recycled materials. A front trunk offers 0.848 cubic feet capacity, and DC fast charging is available.
The Hyundai Ioniq 6, introduced in 2022 as a 2023 model year, is a four-door fast-back mid-size sedan. The optional 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack offers a 379-mile range, and when attached to an 800-volt DC fast charger supplying 350 kilowatts (kW), the vehicle can be charged from 10 percent to 80 percent in just 18 minutes. The $46,615 Ioniq 6 SE Long Range with a single rear-driven electric motor is a direct competitor for the Tesla Model 3.
Hyundai is also going after the electric luxury market, and the Genesis GV60, an all-electric SUV, was first released as a 2023 model. It is the first electric vehicle from Genesis. The GV60 is available in two configurations: single-motor rear-wheel drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive. The single-motor rear-wheel drive GV60 produces 225 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. The dual-motor all-wheel drive GV60 produces 314 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. The GV60 has an EPA-estimated range of up to 248 miles for the rear-wheel drive model and up to 235 miles for the all-wheel drive model. The GV60 starts at $58,900.
Hyundai Ioniq 7 concept. Image used courtesy of Hyundai
In 2024, Hyundai will introduce its Ioniq 7 model, a large SUV with seating for seven or possibly eight. It is expected to have a large enough battery to provide a 300-mile range on a charge, and with 350-kW DC fast charging, the Ioniq 7 should be able to go from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in 20 minutes. Prices will undoubtedly start in the $50,000 range.
Hyundai has shown that it is committed to becoming a leader in the electric vehicle market. The company has set a goal of selling 1.87 million electric vehicles annually by 2030. To achieve this goal, Hyundai is investing heavily in electric vehicle research and development.
There is a catch, however. Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the $7,500 tax incentive on electric vehicles is only available for EVs built in the United States, Canada, or Mexico. A percentage of the battery components must also come from the U.S. or one of its approved trading partners. This means that none of Hyundai’s EV models, including the Genesis, can qualify for that tax incentive.
Before the IRA, Hyundai had committed to spending $10.5 billion in the U.S. for electrification, which included a new $5.5 billion EV and battery plant in Savannah, Georgia. The company is working to move the factory opening date to 2024, but until then, its cars have to work against that $7,500 handicap versus EVs made in North America.
There was a time when Hyundai was the second-best brand. That time is long past, and with the company’s dedication to electrification, a strong brand name, and growing presence in the global automotive market, Hyundai is well-positioned to be a leader in the electric vehicle market.