The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric will soon go on sale as part of a trio of Ioniq variants that also includes hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
When it arrives in dealerships, Hyundai will face the same challenge other automakers have come to know well: marketing electric cars to an uneducated and sometimes skeptical public.
Instead of relying purely on ads, Hyundai plans to launch two unorthodox promotions targeting consumers in electric-car friendly California.
Both will allow consumers in the greater Los Angeles area to drive an Ioniq Electric without going through the conventional purchase process.
The first promotion is a collaboration with startup WaiveCar that will see 400 Ioniq Electric hatchbacks enter the car-sharing service's fleet next year.
WaiveCar offers lower-cost car sharing by selling ads on its vehicles to offset costs and provide additional revenue.
WaiveCar Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The service launched in the Santa Monica area early this year with a fleet of 20 Chevrolet Spark EV electric cars, featuring vinyl wraps and the type of rooftop signs usually seen on taxis.
Hyundai plans to supply 150 Ioniq Electrics for use in the Los Angeles area early next year, with an additional 250 cars anticipated in additional cities by the end of the year.
WaiveCar will offer two-hour free rides, and charge a $5.99-per-hour fee for drivers who want to keep going after that.
In exchange for two hours of free driving, users will essentially pilot rolling billboards—at least some of which may carry ads for the Ioniq Electric itself.
While sitting in morning traffic, the cars' 4G LTE-enabled rooftop signs could, for example, display ads saying "This commute would be a lot more comfortable in a Hyundai Ioniq," a Hyundai press release said.
For drivers who need a car for more than a few hours, Hyundai will also launch a subscription-based service called "Ioniq Unlimited" in California next year.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Ioniq Unlimited is similar to a lease, but it wraps many ownership costs into a single monthly payment.
That fixed amount includes unlimited mileage, charging costs, scheduled maintenance, and replacement costs for "wear items."
Shoppers select cars from dealer inventory online, choose a 24- or 36-month subscription term, and complete the transaction at a physical dealership.
Hyundai promises this will be a "no-haggle" process with minimal paperwork.
The scheme is modeled on cell-phone data plans, and is meant to entice Millennials who may be interested in electric cars, but might also be put off by the traditional purchasing or leasing processes.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Ioniq Unlimited program will be available in Los Angeles in early 2017, and will expand to other parts of California later in the year.
It's unclear whether Hyundai will offer the subscription plan in other states—or expand it to other models.
While buyers outside California can't take advantage of the WaiveCar or Ioniq Unlimited promotions, the Ioniq Electric itself should go on sale in selected regions before the end of this year.
The Ioniq Hybrid model will launch alongside the Ioniq Electric, while the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid will follow in 2017.