Hyundai Ioniq Could Be First Real Challenger To Toyota Prius On Efficiency


Hyundai is generally not the first name that comes to mind when most people think of advanced technology or vehicle electrification. The South Korean brand aims to change that perception in 2016 with the addition of a brand-new model to its lineup, the Ioniq, which will be available with a choice of hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or battery electric (BEV) power-trains.

Rumors of a new dedicated hybrid electric Prius-challenger from Hyundai have been floating around for at least the past two years and more recently spy photos have cropped up showing disguised prototypes running on U.S. roads. While it was clear from the first images that the Ioniq shared a similar hatchback profile with Toyota’s pioneering hybrid, the new teaser image released by Hyundai indicates that it also carries some of its family design DNA.

While for the moment, Hyundai can lay claim to being the first automaker to offer the choice of HEV, PHEV or BEV power in the same body style, that’s based on some very careful use of language. Honda has previously announced that it would offer BEV and PHEV models based on the new Clarity fuel cell car revealed at the Tokyo and Los Angeles Auto Shows. Going back even further to 2012, Ford launched battery powered Focus Electric along with the HEV and PHEV variants of the C-Max which features a tall wagon body on the same Focus platform.

Where the Hyundai differs from the Fords is having a platform designed from the beginning to accommodate these electric propulsion options so it should have significantly better packaging, including more useful cargo space. The plug-in Fords give up most of their back-end volume to the battery packs. The Ioniq should also hit the market well before the BEV and PHEV versions of the Clarity arrive in 2017 or 2018.