Hyundai confirmed the existence of a Prius-fighting hybrid model called the Ioniq, but with a twist. While the car and the Ioniq name have popped up in previous reports, Hyundai now says its green model will be offered with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric powertrains.
That means Hyundai’s first dedicated hybrid will also be its first dedicated electric car. Set to appear next year, the Ioniq will ride on an all-new platform built specifically to accommodate the three powertrain options. It will be compact in size, and Hyundai’s teaser image hints at a one-box hatchback shape similar to the Prius or Chevrolet Volt.
Offering all three powertrains in a single model will probably help Hyundai realize significant cost savings, by pooling the engineering development for what would normally be separate models. Hyundai says it will be the first carmaker to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric versions of the same model. It already offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sonata, Toyota will do the same with the 2016 Prius, and Ford also offers both options on the Fusion and C-Max.
Honda is planning something similar with its 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell. The hydrogen fuel-cell car will share a platform with a dedicated plug-in hybrid model due in 2018. There’s even speculation that the two will be different versions of the same model. Honda also plans to launch a battery-electric car in 2018, and while the carmaker hasn’t confirmed anything, it’s possible this third model will use the Clarity platform as well.
The Ioniq is the clearest example yet of Hyundai’s all-of-the-above approach to green cars. The Korean carmaker also has the hydrogen angle covered with its Tucson Fuel Cell, and already has a battery-electric car: companion brand Kia’s Soul EV. Kia could get a version of the Ioniq as well, as both brands share nearly all vehicle platforms.
The Ioniq will debut in Korea in January, and will then appear at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and 2016 New York Auto Show, both in March. It will go on sale sometime after that, although Hyundai did not say when.
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