SEOGWIPO, South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Co. will offer at least two different versions of its Ioniq hybrid in the U.S., including a standard one and an eco one geared toward maximum fuel efficiency, a senior Hyundai executive said.
The electric version of the car allows the driver to adjust the level of regenerative braking and comes with an “eco-routing” navigation system. A quick test-drive of the EV confirmed its peppiness.
Lee Ki-Sang, senior vice president for Hyundai Motor Group’s Eco Technology Center, said the automaker aims to have the Ioniq beat the Toyota Prius in combined fuel economy when the car is certified by the EPA in the late summer or early fall.
That would mean topping 52 mpg combined for the standard model and 56 mpg combined for the eco-model, Lee said. He was speaking on the sidelines of an electric-vehicle expo on this island at the southern end of the Korean peninsula.
“Our target is a little more than our competitor,” the Prius, Lee said. Beating the Prius “has really big meaning to me.”
The Ioniq, which sports a one-motor, one-clutch setup, gets its edge partly by delivering much better highway fuel economy than the world’s best selling hybrid, Hyundai engineers said.
The Ioniq, which went on sale in South Korea in January but was only unveiled officially in Hyundai’s home market today, offers three electrified drivetrains in one body type: a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric variant.
Hyundai plans to deliver the first Ioniq Electric to customers in South Korea in June. All three versions of the Ioniq will be built at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant in South Korea and use lithium polymer batteries from South Korean supplier LG Chem Ltd.
The all-electric version is expected to arrive in the U.S. this year, after the standard hybrid.
EV’s cool features
Electric vehicles are known for their lively low-end torque, but even by those standards, the Ioniq Electric battery-driven hatchback is peppy. During a short test drive, it had solid handling and sporty acceleration.
Here are five cool features of the EV version of the Ioniq.
1. Designers dumped the front grille from the standard hybrid variant of the Ioniq nameplate. In its place is a solid, beveled shield in a contrasting, gunmetal tone. Because the car lacks an engine throwing off heat, it doesn’t need a radiator or the front fascia ventilation. The look sets it apart.
2. Wait a minute, this is an EV with paddle shifters?
Yes, but they don’t blast the driver through gears because this vehicle has no transmission. Instead, they adjust the resistance of the regenerative braking. Select a firm grip for high friction and a quick slowdown while coasting to maximize the recharging of the car’s lithium polymer battery. Choose a looser feel for less friction and better efficiency on the highway.
There are four levels of friction to choose from.
3. The Ioniq Electric is expected to achieve a fully charged range of 110 miles in the United States, said Kim Choong, an engineer working on the car’s range and energy use.
4. In the U.S. and Korea, Hyundai is equipping the car’s navigation system with an “eco-routing” algorithm that chooses the most energy-efficient course to your destination. It factors in issues such as hills, turns, traffic signals, traffic and speed limits to preserve battery life and fight range anxiety.
5. The EV ditches the traditional gear-shifting lever employed in the Ioniq Hybrid to move from park to drive to reverse. Instead, it gets a more futuristic button pad, that lets drivers simply tap their way into gear. The driver’s wrist rests on a padded knob akin to the wrist supporters used with a computer mouse.