Hyundai Motor Co. says it will be going full-speed ahead in its plug-in electrified vehicle rollout to increase range and compete with upstart Chinese rivals.

Hyundai sees the technology changing so fast that it will have to roll out new EVs on a two-year cadence, boosting the current 110-mile range to around 250 miles per charge by 2020. The competitive pressure is coming from the launch of the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3, and from a blitz of upstart Chinese rivals whose PEVs will be sold mainly in China.

Ahn Byung-ki, director of eco-vehicle development at Hyundai Motor Group, acknowledged that the rate of technological improvement in PEVs has been slow over the past six years. Ahn thinks that innovation will quicken in the face of pressure and demand from China.

Hyundai’s first EV with 110-mile range, the Ioniq small car, will have a 110-mile range in the US. in its battery electric version. When launched in the U.S. in November, it will also come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid variations.

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The South Korean automaker is also planning on rolling out a new EV with a 200-mile range for 2018, and another new PV with a range approaching 250 miles by around 2020. It’s part of Hyundai’s grand plan to introduce 28 new eco-vehicles 2020 across the Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia brands. The automaker says that will consist of 10 traditional hybrids, eight plug-in hybrids, eight battery-electric vehicles, and two fuel cell vehicles.

Foreign carmakers selling PEVs in China must use electrical drivetrain components developed with a local Chinese supplier. The rule has made Chinese suppliers more technologically savvy in key items such as motors and electrical control units, he said.

“They have a lot of EV companies, almost 200,” Ahn said. “They are very serious.”

Automotive News