Regarding eco-friendly cars, the Hyundai-Kia Group might have arrived late to the party, but now is definitely making some difference in this segment.
The new 2018 model year, marks the introduction of the plug-in hybrid variant, which is now available and first deliveries already happened in South Korea. This PHEV variant has an all electric range of 40 km (25 miles) in the realistic South Korean test cycle, which is very similar to the one used by the EPA in the USA.
This new model year brought some changes, of which the most curious is the fact that the 12 V auxiliary battery was changed from lead acid to lithium ion. This low voltage battery is now side-by-side with the high voltage.
As we can see in the image above, with the new 12 V auxiliary lithium ion battery the trunk space increased by 9 liters, while the car’s weight decreased – making it more efficient. The use of a 12 V auxiliary lithium ion battery isn’t new in the Hyundai-Kia Group, the Hyundai IONIQ, in some markets, such as the USA, already has it as shown in the image below.
According to Kia Motors, the full electric version that we care about – BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) – will arrive next year:
“We will complete the lineup by adding a Niro electric car in the second and third quarter of next year. We expect to be able to lead the eco-friendly market not only in Korea but also overseas.”
In 2018, the Hyundai-Kia Group will have at least four high range electric cars, they are: Kia Niro EV; Kia Stonic EV; Hyundai Kona Electric and the improved Hyundai IONIQ Electric (with a new battery). In the other hand, the Kia Soul EV will be the one with less range, yet more affordable. In total, at least five great electric cars from the South Korean automakers will be available worldwide next year.
If this strategy – of giving customers the choice of full electric powertrains – proves to be successful, Toyota might feel the need to introduce full electric versions of their hybrids sooner than they planned to. If Toyota continues to deny reality, the company risks to lose more of its faithful customers to eco-friendlier alternatives.