TOKYO -- Hyundai Motor Co. will launch a new vehicle in January dubbed the Ioniq featuring three electrified drivetrain options in one body type, as the South Korean automaker fortifies its green-car lineup and targets rivals such as the Toyota Prius.
Detailing the plans Monday, Hyundai called the Ioniq the first nameplate from any manufacturer to offer either an all-electric, traditional gasoline-electric hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain. A teaser photo depicts a black compact vehicle with a triangular silhouette, lowered front hood and raised rear deck.
The Ioniq will debut in South Korea next month, and then be shown at the Geneva and New York auto shows in March, Hyundai said in a statement.
“Our vision for future mobility focuses on choice, with a variety of powertrain options to suit customers’ varied lifestyles, without compromising on design or driving enjoyment,” Hyundai global r&d chief Yang Woong-Chul said in the statement. “Ioniq is the fruit of our efforts to become the leader in the global green car market.”
The Ioniq is Hyundai’s latest gambit to gain traction in a segment of alternative-energy vehicles long dominated by Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corp., with its Prius hybrid, and Nissan Motor Co., manufacturer of the Leaf electric car.
The move shores up Hyundai’s green-vehicle strategy as carmakers come under increasing pressure to boost fuel economy ahead of increasingly stringent rules.
Hyundai said the Ioniq will combine class-leading fuel efficiency with “a fun, responsive drive and attractive design.” It then took a dig at its main rival, the Prius, calling the Ioniq’s formula “a unique mix not yet achieved in a hybrid vehicle.”
Toyota begins selling the fourth generation of its flagship hybrid this month, also touting its own car for stylish design and sportier handling, in addition to top fuel economy.
But Hyundai is so confident of its own car’s uniqueness, it worked the word “unique” into the second part of the nameplate’s moniker. The first part, ion, comes from the name for an electrically charged atom, a nod to the electrified powertrain.
The “Q” will be depicted in the car’s logo to express a “visual breakthrough” that symbolized the “fresh new approach” of the vehicle, the carmaker said.
The vehicle gets an exclusive all-new platform designed to fit all three of the Ioniq’s powertrain options while delivering responsive handling, Hyundai said.
The all-electric version will use a high-capacity lithium ion battery, Hyundai added. It did not detail what battery types will be deployed in the other two variants.
Hyundai and sibling brand Kia have been working on Toyota Prius rivals for more than half a decade. Just last month, Kia unveiled a five-year development plan to expand its green-car lineup to 11 models from four today. That rollout will include electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars, plug-in hybrids and traditional hybrids.
Kia previewed the push with by showing the Niro hybrid utility vehicle, a concept that marks the development of that brand’s first dedicated eco-car platform.
The Kia Niro will enter production for global markets in 2016.
Hyundai's hybrid may pull some parts from the re-engineered Elantra, but the Ioniq was developed from its initial stages to be an entirely different car, starting with a new platform. It is expected to get an aerodynamic sedan design reminiscent of the Chevrolet Volt. It is expected to deliver power from a 1.6-liter gasoline engine mated to an electric motor.
Gabe Nelson contributed to this report.