Hyundai executive vice chairman Euisun Chung today kicked off 2020 by announcing an expanded output of electric vehicles and other advanced technologies. He said the group — which includes the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands — will invest more than $87 billion to produce 23 EVs by 2025. However, details about a possible 11 new, dedicated electric vehicles remain murky.
According to today’s announcements, the group’s lineup will grow to 23 battery-electric vehicles and six plug-in hybrids in the next five years. The first of 11 new dedicated EVs could come as early as 2021, although recent Hyundai statements about the timing contradict one another.
The announcement about a dedicated Hyundai EV dates back at least to 2017. Reports from a couple of years ago suggested that it will be badged as a Genesis, and targeted to compete with the Tesla Model 3.
But in June, Business Korea reported that Hyundai Motor started production of an all-electric compact SUV using an “Electric-Global Modular Platform.” That report pointed to a prototype getting unveiled in mid-2020 and production in early 2021.
However, today’s news release about the 2020 new year’s event included this line:
A new EV architecture development system will be introduced and applied to models slated for launch in 2024.
More recently, Kia confirmed that the sporty Imagine concept will go into production by 2021. “The plan is for this to become a mass-produced vehicle in one or two years,” said Emilio Herrera, COO for Kia Europe last week.
The Kia Imagine concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show
Even fewer details are available about the other 10 potential dedicated EVs coming from the Hyundai group in the next five years. SK Innovation will supply the batteries, as reported by NNA, a Japanese news agency a couple of weeks ago:
SK Innovation will exclusively provide batteries for about 500,000 Hyundai crossover utility vehicles that will use E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform), according to industry sources. Production of Hyundai’s first electric model based on E-GMP carrying an 800-volt battery will begin in the first quarter of 2021 at the southeastern industrial city of Ulsan.
Hyundai said its current lineup includes nine pure electric vehicles. But there is little evidence of those models selling well outside of its domestic South Korean market. In the United States, sales of Hyundai and Kia EVs — such as the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV in the US have been negligible — fewer than 2,000 units in 2019.
Most of the remaining global EV models from the Hyundai Group are not familiar to American motorists. For example, there is an electric version of the Hyundai Lafesta, a midsize model sold in China. And Kia plans to make an EV variant of its Picanto minicar for Europe.
Hyundai executive vice chairman Euisun Chung
Chung today said that a new EV architecture development system will help reduce costs by sharing components between models. It will also allow for production flexibility to respond to increased demand.
The most immediate result from today’s New Year’s announcements could be the introduction of plug-in hybrid variants of best-selling SUV models, including Kia Sorento, Hyundai Tucson, and Hyundai Santa Fe. The total number of so-called electrified vehicles by 2025 expanded from 24 to 44 models, including 13 no-plug, gas-electric hybrids, and two fuel-cell vehicles.
Hyundai also aims to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles, with plans to develop a self-driving platform by 2022. A robust autonomous vehicle is slated for introduction in the second half of 2024. Rounding out its program, Hyundai will grow its EV ride-hailing services in Southeast Asia. Last year, Hyundai supplied Grab, the region’s largest car-hailing service, with 200 units of the Hyundai Kona Electric.
We’re glad that Hyundai kicked off the new decade talking about EVs. But after a few years of bold promises followed by lackluster production, it’s hard to get too excited about more fanfare with fuzzy goals.
It’s only been a few weeks since Hyundai announced its “Strategy 2025” roadmap, including a $52 billion investment in electric vehicles. The plan set a target of selling 560,000 pure EVs a year by 2025. That firm number is a good start.
However, until sales of excellent current long-range EVs, like the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro, get a major boost across 50 states, we remain unconvinced about Hyundai’s seriousness. So the waiting game continues. A snazzy Kia Imagine sedan in 2021? Or maybe it’s a mass-market crossover electric SUV in two years? Or is it 2024?
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