Hyundai takes on Tesla with sedan version of its cult electric vehicle

The Ioniq 6 can beam different colours in the interior and travel 610km on a single charge

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Hyundai unveiled a sedan version of its cult electric vehicle on Thursday, with an interior that can beam different colours depending on the speed of the car, as the manufacturer continues its ambitious EV push with an eye on challenging rivals such as Tesla and General Motors.

The Ioniq 6 can travel up to 610 kilometres on a single charge of its 77.4 kilowatt-hour battery, compared with 429km for the Ioniq 5, Hyundai said as the car debuted at the Busan International Motor Show in South Korea.

Production will start in the third quarter this year, and batteries will be supplied by LG Energy Solution and another Korean partner, SK On.

Sales in South Korea will begin in September with a base price of 55 million won ($42,000), the company said. US sales will begin in early 2023 and the wider distribution will be announced later. Prices for customers overseas haven’t been announced yet.

The EV will be aimed at young, single professionals, in contrast to the bigger, more family-focused Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s senior vice president of North America sales Randy Parker said.

The car will be produced in Asan, South Korea, and there are no plans to make it outside the country for now, EV head Heung Soo Kim said. Hyundai didn’t announce a sales target for the model.

Hyundai plans to invest 95.5 trillion won in electrification this decade, introducing at least 17 new models between this year and 2030 and aiming for annual sales of 1.87 million EVs by the end of the period. The company is gunning for a 7 per cent share of the global EV market by 2030, and an 11 per cent share in the US.

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The arrival of the Ioniq 6 comes about seven and a half months after Hyundai unit Kia unveiled its latest Niro electric SUV. Kia’s EV9, a luxury SUV, will be released in 2023.

Hyundai and Kia together sold about 123,000 battery-powered and plug-in hybrid EVs in the first half of this year, putting them third on the world’s top EV-maker list, behind Tesla and BYD, figures compiled by BloombergNEF show.

The Europe, Middle East and Africa region accounted for nearly 60 per cent of their sales, while Kia has become the second-most popular EV brand in the US this year.

“I’m positive about the Ioniq 6, especially in Europe because Ioniq 5 and Kia’s EV 6 were so popular there,” said Angela Hong, an analyst with Nomura in Seoul. “Hyundai’s EV margins don’t seem that bad so far because a weaker Korean won has offset losses from higher battery prices.”

The won has weakened about 10 per cent against the dollar this year.

The Ioniq 6 has similar autonomous driving features to the Ioniq 5, including Highway Driving Assist 2 and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The model’s seats are about 30 per cent thinner than other models in the series, providing more legroom, while there are five USB ports and space next to the driver for a laptop. Some software can also be updated remotely, a first for Hyundai.

“Hyundai is changing so fast to win the race in the EV industry, faster than other traditional car makers,” said Woo Taek Hwang, a fund manager at Korea Investment Management in Seoul.

“The Ioniq series reminds me of Samsung’s Galaxy series, when Samsung was working extremely hard to catch up with Apple’s iPhones. Hyundai is becoming a fast follower for Tesla.”

Updated: July 14, 2022, 7:00 AM
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