The all-electric version of Hyundai’s new Ioniq, with an estimated driving range of 110 miles, launches late this year. That’s around the same time as the Chevrolet Bolt EV with its claimed 200-mile driving range, is scheduled to appear, but Hyundai is hard at work playing catch-up. Byung K. Ahn, director of Hyundai’s Eco-Vehicle Performance Development group, says that the company will launch an EV with at least 200 miles of range by 2018, and a 250-mile EV by 2020.
Ahn also said that the Ioniq won’t be the car to reach these goals. He wouldn’t give any more specifics on these longer-range EVs, but did admit that achieving the 200-mile and 250-mile numbers requires a car with a larger footprint in order to accommodate a bigger battery pack. Improvements in energy density and software mapping can help to a point, but dramatically increasing range essentially hews to the old saying, “there’s no replacement for displacement.” The Ioniq EV uses a 28-kWh battery pack, while the Bolt has a 60-kWh pack and the Tesla Model S offers battery packs ranging from 70 kWh to 90 kWh. We don’t yet know details on the cheaper, smaller Model 3 sedan’s battery-pack options, but Tesla chief Elon Musk did say that the Model 3would come standard with a driving range of at least 215 miles.
Even still, General Motors is somehow able to squeeze the Bolt’s battery into a 102.4-inch wheelbase, 3.9 inches shorter than that of the Ioniq, so we wonder if there are other packaging limitations involved with the Ioniq platform. Ahn says that Hyundai is “looking at different possibilities” for its future, long-range EV, so we’re not sure if it will be a dedicated model like the Ioniq, or be based on an existing, conventionally powered gasoline car. Expect more news on Hyundai’s electrification plans as we get closer to the company’s self-imposed 2018 and 2020 target dates.