Hyundai Ioniq Electric car to get 200 miles of range 'soon'


2017 Hyundai Ioniq (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

2017 Hyundai Ioniq (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

Enlarge Photo

Hyundai's product planners seem to have a bit of an issue on their hands.

The South Korean automaker is set to launch an all-electric version of its Ioniq hatchback, alongside the conventional hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of that model.

Called the Ioniq Electric, it has an estimated driving range of 110 miles EPA-rated range of 124 miles.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq product team discusses U.S. hybrid, electric markets

Unfortunately, the Ioniq Electric will arrive just as an anticipated new crop of mainstream-priced 200-mile electric cars—led by the 238-mile 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV—will start to appear at U.S. dealers.

But Hyundai is already planning a response to that trend, it seems.

It plans to launch a version of the Ioniq Electric with at least 200 miles of range by 2018, reports industry trade journal Automotive News (subscription required).

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

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That's what Ahn Byung-ki—director of Hyundai's eco-vehicle performance group—said during a recent media event at the carmaker's Michigan technical center.

Ahn said the current range will satisfy most consumer's typical needs, but that it still "is not enough" for the long term.

A range in the neighborhood of the 200 miles would allow the Ioniq Electric to compete with the Bolt EV as well as the 215-mile Tesla Model 3, which Tesla says will start production at the end of next year.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq preview

The next-generation Nissan Leaf is also expected to have at least one version with a 200-mile range.

It will likely be unveiled and launched sometime over the next 18 months to replace the current Leaf, which has a 107-mile range.

Ahn did not specify how Hyundai will increase the Ioniq Electric's range, but fitting a battery pack with a significantly larger form factor could pose a challenge.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

2017 Hyundai Ioniq (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

Enlarge Photo

That's because—rather than putting a flat battery pack under the passenger compartment floor as in a Leaf or Chevy Bolt EV—Hyundai sited its battery under the rear seat, and between the rear wheels.

It's possible, one Hyundai executive hinted last year, that it might extend the pack into the tunnel between the Ioniq's seats.

Otherwise, increasing battery capacity by two-thirds would require lithium-ion cells with energy density that is two-thirds greater, a tall order for any cell supplier even given recent improvements in cell capacity.

MORE: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid sets new Land Speed Record

Hyundai says the Ioniq Electric and Ioniq Hybrid models will go on sale before the end of this year, while the plug-in hybrid will follow in 2017.

At the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai also announced Amazon Alexa smart-home integration, which includes the ability to start and stop remote charging via voice command.

This feature will be available on the Ioniq Electric and Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, as well as the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid midsize sedan.

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