At a price of INR 23.76 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), the Hyundai Kona Electric isn’t affordable to most and has no ascertainable effect on driving adoption of EVs in India. However the Kona is only the beginning as new and cheaper Hyundai electric cars are in the pipeline, and the first is to arrive by mid-2023.
Speaking to Autocar Professional recently, Tarun Garg, Director – Sales, Marketing & Service, Hyundai (India), said that the company will introduce high-volume Hyundai electric cars “in three years.”
Last year Hyundai confirmed that it was developing an electric car for India in the ‘affordable’ category under the ‘Smart EV’ project. Gleaning from subsequent interactions, the vehicle would cost under Rs. 10 lakh and that the company was planning to present a concept to the Auto Expo 2022. When EVW spoke to Garg at the Auto Expo 2020, it got a sense that the electric car would have to be a compact SUV.
Hyundai India’s management has said in multiple media interactions that the company’s EV ambitions do not end with the Kona and that an affordable model, competing in the mass-market segment, would launch around 2023. Unlike the Kona, imported from South Korea as a kit, the zero-emissions electric crossover model would be manufactured in India. Reports have gone as far as stating that an elaborate export plan and a ‘platform-mate’ from Kia are in the plans.
Unlikely to use the ‘Ioniq’ brand
In August this year, Hyundai introduced a new dedicated global sub-brand for EVs that is unlikely to be related to the Hyundai electric car for India. The ‘Ioniq’ range will include three new EVs initially – Ioniq 5 (Hyundai 45), Ioniq 6 (Hyundai Prophecy) and Ioniq 7 (large SUV) to emerge in 2021, 2022 and 2024 respectively.
The Ioniq nomenclature is odd numbers designated to crossovers and even numbers going to sedans. The announcement has not a hint of a 4th model and nothing on a budget Hyundai electric car.
Hyundai India would not say no to exporting the affordable EV to emerging markets where electrification is in the nascent stage. The new electric SUV, unlike the ‘Ioniq’ brand cars, may have none of the advanced 500 km driving range and sub-20 minute high-speed charging time of the e-GMP architecture. It may instead adopt a low-cost platform developed for budget EVs or a repurposed one that supports both electric and ICE powertrains. Before the pandemic hit, Hyundai was in talks with several suppliers and partners for the new ecosystem.
Hyundai Electric Car Range & Price
The e-SUV should ideally have a real-world driving range of around 250 km. A battery manufacturing plant in India could maximise the localisation of EV products. The Kona Electric, launched in 2019, is a CKD import, which has led to its high asking price and cannot drive mass adoption of zero-emission vehicles as the majority of the car buyers are in the sub Rs 10 lakh category.
It will be ideal if the battery manufacturing plant starts operations right alongside the new electric SUV’s production as Hyundai is doing for its electric car in Europe.
Maruti, Mahindra & MG making crossover-type e-SUVs
While Maruti Suzuki is looking to bring out its first fully electric car in 2021, Hyundai also launching an affordable electric car is good news for those who wish to wean off fossil fuel-based vehicles.
MG Motor India, which witnessed a pleasing response to the ZS EV, plans an affordable electric car launch by 2023. MG intends to build a battery assembly plant in India as well as localise a few other components to bring down the cost of its electric vehicles. Lastly, Mahindra’s long-range electric SUV, the Mahindra eXUV300 with a range of over 370 km, comes out next year, targeting the personal car segment.