Hyundai unplugs its electric-car subscription plan

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Hyundai’s “Unlimited+” electric-car subscription plan, which was only offered in Southern California but originally destined for wider rollout, won’t be coming back at all on the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the automaker confirmed last week.

When the program was first offered on initial 2017 Ioniq Electric models it included Blue Link remote-vehicle services (with the agreement to share mileage and charging data), maintenance, and a no-haggle process—with three different monthly prices depending on the trim level (Base, Limited, and Limited Ultimate).

Versus leasing, there were no mileage caps, and one of the key behind-the-scenes financing differences was that agreements weren’t tied to a specific vehicle. Hyundai asked for 24- or 36-month terms, but offered to change vehicles or upgrade under the plan.

DON’T MISS: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric: first drive review of 124-mile electric car

Originally the plan also included unlimited public-charging privileges and reimbursement for tax, title, and registration fees, but those were removed from the program for 2018 and its price jumped, although a suite of active-safety features were added.

There’s no postmortem report on the program, yet. Hyundai wouldn’t call its subscription model a failure, it also won’t point to a single reason (or two), like people abusing charging privileges, or ride-hailing drivers using it. The company is currently “studying other options,” according to spokesman Derek Joyce, and said that Unlimited+ won’t be coming back in that form because of “a whole range of factors.”

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

What Hyundai Motor America vice president Mike O’Brien recently told us may have been a hint on where this is headed. He said that the company is currently working on a better way to present the value of its plug-in models, together, to shoppers, and that it’s hoping to increase the parent company’s allocation of such models for the U.S.

CHECK OUT: Battery shortage interrupts Hyundai Ioniq Electric sales

The Ioniq Electric currently offers a 124-mile driving range from its 28-kwh lithium-ion battery pack—which is more efficient than the Tesla Model 3 and the best range per kwh of any U.S.-market fully electric passenger vehicle, and the top EPA-rated efficiency. A battery upgrade is due next year and expected to give this model a much longer driving range.

In the meantime, Hyundai plans to offer the Ioniq Electric for sale and for lease. And as our friends at CarsDirect noted, lease prices on 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric are actually lower than the Unlimited+ subscription plans were. But many of those other extras aren’t included, and the mileage caps are back.

We so often hear that subscription models are the future of the auto industry and the way that brand loyalty can be fostered. With the apparent overwhelming success (albeit clumsy start) of Volvo’s subscription plan, let’s hope Hyundai is seeing a better way to do this, nationwide.

 
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