It’s official. The Hyundai Ioniq is the most fuel efficient hybrid on the planet. That has to be a bitter pill to swallow for Toyota. Its Prius Eco used to be king of the mileage mountain, but now it has been relegated to second place. “We need some way to ‘pop’ above our competitors and get recognition in an area where we’re just kind of a new born, said Michael J. O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America vice president of corporate and product planning, during a media event Thursday at its technical center near Ypsilanti. “I think for us having class-leading numbers is certainly a way of getting noticed.”
The Ioniq Hybrid has been officially certified by the EPA as getting 57 mpg city and 59 mpg highway. That results in a combined fuel economy rating of 58 mpg. By contrast, the Prius Eco is rated 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, and a mere 56 mpg overall. There will be hand wringing in Tokyo tonight. Toyota invested a lot of time and effort into making the Prius Eco as economical as it could. It even delayed introducing the newest Prius for a year so engineers could continue honing its efficiency.
The Ioniq Hybrid will be joined in 2017 by an all electric version that Hyundai says will have 124 miles of range. Whether that is EPA range or the significantly more generous Asian range is unknown at this time. It had better be the EPA range if Hyundai has any hope of selling them here. US shoppers have been cool to any electric with less than 100 miles of range.
A plug-in hybrid version of the Ioniq is also scheduled to debut in mid 2017. The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid both feature a new “Kappa” 1.6-liter direct-injected, four-cylinder engine delivering an estimated 104 horsepower and an estimated 109 lb.-ft. of torque. No specifics about the PHEV car have been made public. Hyundai is the first manufacturer to build a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an electric car that all use the same basic chassis.
Hyundai says it expects the green automobile market to expand from 2 million units in 2014 to 6.4 million units by 2020. It thinks that growth will be driven by a new generation of car buyers. “With these new millennials coming to market, the fundamental drivers for demand are going to change,” O’Brien said. “Everybody’s data suggests that their preferences are different.” For Hyundai, it expects one of the three versions of the Ioniq to appeal strongly to that demographic.
Source: Detroit News Photo credit: Hyundai