Speaking to reporters prior to an upcoming auto show in Korea, Lee Ki-sang, head of green car operations for Hyundai and Kia, said both companies are working on a dedicated chassis specifically for electric cars. The companies currently share a chassis for the Hyundai Ioniq and the Kia Niro, both of which come in either a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric configuration.
That gives Hyundai and Kia the ability to adjust production to meet market demands, but there is no substitute when building an all-electric car for having a chassis designed specifically for that purpose. Batteries are heavy and must be mounted as low as possible in the chassis to prevent all that weight from upsetting the ride and handling of the car. Tesla pioneered the “skateboard” approach with the Model S, and that model is now the standard of the industry.
Hyundai’s electric car platform will allow it to install a battery pack underneath the floor of its electric vehicles to accommodate more battery capacity and maximize cabin space, Lee said. “The electric vehicle platform will require high up-front investments but we are doing this to prepare for the future.”
The subcompact or compact models electric cars from Hyundai and Kia will have a range of more than 186 miles and be “more competitive” than rival offerings, Lee added.”The separate platform may incur losses initially, but Hyundai will be left behind the market if they don’t offer long-distance models, like 300 km, 500 km and 600 km,” said Ko Tae-bong, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.
One of the first electric offerings from Hyundai and Kia will be an SUV, which makes perfectly good marketing sense since SUVs represent the hottest segment in the new car market today. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 door sedan is not selling as well as its kissing cousin, the Kia Niro SUV.