Hyundai Executive Confirms Ioniq Hybrid and EV Variants Coming This Week

Hyundai confirmed that the hybrid and all-electric versions of its new Ioniq compact sedan will be launched this week in the U.S.

Mike O’Brien, vice president-product planning for Hyundai Motor America, spoke last with WardsAuto about Hyundai’s product plans.

“Our focus was on developing a great compact car that happens to be electrified,” O’Brien said. “There were around 1.1 million buyers who shopped for an EV last year, but because of cost or maintenance or durability…or that they felt the car was too underpowered…they didn’t buy one.

“We are offering a no-excuse electrified vehicle that measures up to compact vehicles in the segment,” he said.

O’Brien said that a full marketing launch for the cars will begin in March, and that the plug-in hybrid version will be released in September. Sales targets aren’t being announced by the company for its Ioniq lineup.

Hyundai’s previous CEO, Dave Zuchowski, told WardsAuto last year the new cars may need to be incentivized sooner than later because low gasoline prices have hampered green-car sales.

“With gas at $2 a gallon there isn’t much natural demand for an alternative-fuel vehicle that’s going to generate terrific mileage,” he said last year.

O’Brien suggested it could be a different scenario for consumers, and that Hyundai “will wait to see how the market receives the cars.”

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Hyundai has high hopes for the hybrid being the strongest seller in the Ioniq electrified vehicle group. The company is confident the Ioniq’s high fuel economy – 58 mpg – will place it competitively against the Toyota Prius.

That fuel economy rating is, “2 mpg higher than (Toyota’s) Prius. And the Prius, as you know, is in its fourth generation,” he said.

But taking on the Prius won’t enough. O’Brien said that Hyundai’s target market is neither owners of the Prius or other electrified vehicle owners.

“That’s not enough to make a business case,” he said.

The Ioniq vehicle lineup is central to the Korean automaker’s plans to roll out several new green vehicle offerings in the coming years. By 2020, Hyundai will have five hybrids, four plug-in hybrids, four all-electric, and one fuel-cell vehicle on the market.

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