Full EV Ioniq same price as popular PHEV rival

The Hyundai Ioniq has reset the entry price to fully electric motoring.


THE cost of driving a wholly electric car here has just dropped by almost a quarter, with Hyundai announcing its Ioniq hatch will start at $59,990.

While the five-seater car with a cited optimum range of 280km is not on sale until February, Hyundai has announced the base price now because it is already on the road.

Four examples are here now, one in Wellington which has been kept busy being shown mainly to local and central Government, one council being so impressed it has signed up for an example sight-unseen, and also some corporates.

The price seems set to cause a stir – it’s the same money that Mitsubishi asks for the least expensive version of its petrol-assisted Outlander plug-in PHEV, which has an electric-only range of 55kms (but can clock up to 880km on combined petrol-electric) and well under the other wholly electric offers here, the smaller, more city-centric and four-seater Renault Zoe and BMW i3. They respective site at $73,400 and $74,990.

This might also give the Korean brand a winning edge with the Government strategy to make greater use of EVs on departmental fleets. Its arrival times nicely with the selection process.

Hyundai New Zealand boss Andy Sinclair would not comment on whether his brand was selling the car at on, or even below margin, however he suggested keen-ness to make a firm impression on the emergent EV sector was a priority.

“To sell cars they have to be at the right price.”

Hyundai had an Ioniq on display for media yesterday but there was no opportunity for driving. The display car was in an Elite format that is set to sell for around $64,000. This version has leather seats, whereas the entry car has cloth, and also sported a sunroof that will cost extra still.

 Ioniq is an automotive ground-breaker in being the world’s first production car that will be presented in three ‘BlueDrive’-badged fuel-saving formats – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric.

All three formats are coming to NZ. The electric starts the charge, with the PHEV following around mid-year and the hybrid will be last, at the end of next year.

Sinclair says he is saving outlining details of the Ioniq strategy until a media conference in early February.

However, it already seems clear his brand is on the warpath – having the full electric is at the same start price as the popular Outlander PHEV suggests the plug-in petrol-electric Ioniq might be up to $10,000 cheaper – thus potentially positioning against the Toyota Prius in its hybrid and used-import, previous-generation PHEV formats.

The hybrid Ioniq, in turn, could despite being designed to measure up against a full-blown Prius, conceivably end up pitching against the Prius C and Corolla Hybrid that sit in the $30-$40,000 zone.

While battery-prioritised vehicles achieve just 0.6 percent share of the global automotive market, the theory of technology adoption holds that once a one percent threshold is achieved – likely to occur in February – that’s the tipping point at which the tech cannot be stopped and is here to stay (though not yet set to bump out the internal combustion engine; that’ll require a 50 percent gain).

New Zealand is not as enthusiastic about EVs as some places. Nonetheless, the Government’s April-announced initiative to have 64,000 electric cars in operation by 2021, the private sector plan to develop an ‘electric highway’ by strategically siting rechargers along State Highway One, commitment by 30 big name companies to at least 30 percent of their corporate fleets being electric vehicles by 2019 are all positive connects.

The Government’s push to start implementing electric cars into its fleets where practicable has excited brands including Hyundai.

A selection process that has been running for some months has apparently given consideration to all EVs and PHEVs, but not conventional hybrids – because they are not considered electric cars.

Ironically, this leaves the biggest brand in the market, Toyota, at significant disadvantage. Primarily, the policy rules out the fleet dominating Prius and Corolla and Camry hybrids. A programme that delivers examples of ex-Japan used PHEV Prius hatchbacks as new model equivalents is also stymied – because as a model intended for domestic Japan use only it lacks a score from the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme, our recognised crash test regime.

The full electric model will be the premium priced player, but should nonetheless make significant impact. Its latest-gen lithium-ion cells have enough juice to provide a potential 280kms’ maximum range and though, with 88kW, it is the least powerful Ioniq, this model will nonetheless have the quickest step-off.

Hyundai’s styling is really quite avante garde and the brand is suggesting it will have decent driving dynamics, too, since a particular ambition is to go big in Europe, where they like nifty handling. The interior treatment is very much like in the latest Tucson, a good seller here.