When Hyundai’s new Ioniq Electric goes on sale later this year, “millions” of Southern Californians will be exposed to it as it also pilots a new customer friendly leasing experience.
How so? Well, the 124-mile-range of the new Korean EV does not exactly challenge the 238-mile Chevy Bolt EV, or pending 215-plus-mile Tesla Model 3, but two new marketing programs stand to amplify its appeal.
One of these involves supplying the car for absolutely free to app-wielding Los Angeles area consumers for up to two hours, and the other program announced today is a no-haggle online “Ioniq Unlimited” subscription-based leasing experience.
This latter deal, while not free, lets customers roll together into one fixed payment unlimited mileage, charging costs – including from home – scheduled maintenance, wear items and all typical purchase fees such as registration.
As for the “free” car, this involves a partnership with Santa Monica and Venice-based WaiveCar that offsets costs by wrapping the shared car with advertising and installing a roof-mounted digital advertising display.
After the initial two-hour jaunt that includes insurance, WaiveCar charges $5.99 per hour if people want to go longer.
A $1,000 deductible helps keep people motivated to treat the free wheels with respect.
Initially WaiveCar and Hyundai plan to have 150 cars in the LA area working with a business model that pays to let people sample the car essentially gratis.
For their customers’ trouble, the 4G enabled digital display may show messages while the car wends its way around town, or while navigating the freeway such as, “This commute would be a lot more comfortable in a Hyundai IONIQ.”
The Ioniq Electric is one configuration for the electrified car that will also come in a 58-mpg hybrid version, and plug-in hybrid version next year with an estimated 25-29 miles EV range and spectacular mpg in hybrid mode.
Hyundai saved costs in building a platform that could be leveraged into three different powertrain specs, but EV fans have poked at the range of the electric trim.
When announced earlier this year, range was at first estimated at 110 miles – just three more than Nissan’s soon-to-be-retired first-generation Leaf, now that it’s seen two upgrades since its 2011 launch.
Hyundai’s engineers have since dug deeper into the Ioniq Electric’s 28-kWh battery usable capacity for an advertised 124 miles range – not at all bad, and sufficient for many – but we’ve seen some say this is still on the low side with 200-and-up miles becoming the new normal.
For its part, Hyundai has countered by saying a lower range has been enough for many EV drivers until now, the smaller battery costs to build are less, it weighs less, and it’s a bit roomier than a Leaf.
That said, according to the director of Hyundai’s eco-vehicles Ahn Byung-ki, an updated Ioniq will be able to travel more than 200 miles by 2018.
When asked whether the innovative free cars and no-hassle leasing experience were to run interference in the face of longer-range EVs pending, Hyundai Motor America’s Manager of Product Public Relations, Derek Joyce, said no.
The new WaiveCar and Ultimate Buying Experience programs make sense regardless, he said, and are only as represented – to enhance exposure and positive consumer experiences.
Furthermore, while the Ioniq EV hs less range, it’s expected to cost less. Though not announced for the U.S., pricing for the Ioniq EV and the optional new leasing experience will try to position the car competitively compared to what else is on the market, including the new mid-upper 30s 200-milers.
Hyundai Motor America’s Vice President of Marketing Dean Evans also said the Ioniq Unlimited ownership experience is meant simply as a means to maximize customer satisfaction.
“We’re excited to offer Ioniq Unlimited as an innovative, worry-free means of clean, zero-emission vehicle ownership along with our new Ioniq electric vehicle,” said Evans. “This new ownership experience adds to the satisfaction of driving a no-compromise, clean vehicle with unlimited mileage and zero hidden costs. It was time to make clean vehicle ownership easy for everyone.”
Joyce noted the program builds upon how its California-market Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle was sold – with fuel included. That was done in part because the gaseous hydrogen was not being metered, but the customers liked the experience, and so it’s being extended to the EV.
Not Unlike Tesla’s Experience?
In all, the Ioniq Unlimited package offers a negotiation-free single-payment which Hyundai calls “an entirely new concept in vehicle ownership that eco-focused owners will appreciate.”
Granted, it’s lease only, but like Tesla, the “buying experience” is done online and aims to be painless and stress free for those who prefer this approach. Hyundai customers will be able to select the vehicle from a preferred dealer’s lot, choose a 24 or 36-month term, and preview their all-inclusive payment.
After credit is approved, they go to the dealer and collect their new electric automobile pretty as you please, and implicitly as hassle-free as one might get at a Tesla store.
“Hyundai carefully designed the entire process to be the most transparent, stress-free and enjoyable ownership experience on the market today,” says the company.
As for the WaiveCar–Hyundai partnership, Hyundai is not saying how much it is charging the local car-sharing company for the cars, but it is following a model that’s seen cars like the Chevy Spark EVs in service already.
“We are extremely excited to be working together with Hyundai,” said Zoli Honig, WaiveCar’s CTO & Co-Founder. “Providing low cost, eco-friendly transportation alternatives to consumers is our core mission and offering the Ioniq will accelerate that goal. We believe this partnership will be tremendously beneficial for Hyundai, WaiveCar, our customers, and the environment.”
By the end of 2017, WaiveCar plans to launch locations in three additional cities using 250 more Ioniqs.
For now, these deals are only in California, but given it buys close to half the plug-in cars sold, this should help put the new Ioniq into a brighter limelight even if other long-range EVs threaten to take center stage.