Hyundai finally took the wraps off its all new Ioniq this past week in Korea. The car, which sits on a dedicated chassis not shared with any other Hyundai model, was designed from the ground up to accept a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or battery electric powertrain — the first car in the world to claim that distinction. With all those configurations, it will be able to compete head to head with the Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF, and the upcoming affordable electric cars from Chevrolet and Tesla.
Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, told Automotive News this week that all three versions of the Ioniq will be in showrooms in the 3rd quarter of 2016. The hybrid will go on sale first, followed by the electric car a few weeks later. Then the plug-in bybrid will arrive. If so, that could give Hyundai an edge over Chevrolet, which plans to introduce its $37,500 Bolt with at least 200 miles of range before the end of this year. Hyundai has not released any prices or performance specifications for its all electric Ioniq.
The first thing shoppers will notice about the Ioniq is its styling. Early design sketches and spy photos showed it to be somewhat awkward in design. There were even hints of the unlovely Pontiac Aztek about it. But the official photos make the car look much more appealing. It is a 5 door hatchback design, which should please customers who are looking for the comfort of a sedan with the carrying capacity of a crossover SUV.
The 1.6 liter Kappa engine in the hybrid and plug-in hybrid is said to achieve 40% efficiency — on a par with the latest gasoline engine in the newest Prius. Says AutoBlog, both models use a dual clutch 6 speed automatic transmission, which should avoid some of the droning nature of the CVT used in the Toyota. Presumably, the electric only version will not use a transmission at all.
Prices and major specifications are still unavailable. It will be interesting to see how the Ioniq fares in a world where gasoline costs less than bottled water.