A lot of people were clucking their tongues earlier this week when Hyundai announced it will bring a new fuel cell powered SUV to market next year. The as yet unnamed vehicle makes use of more efficient fourth generation fuel cell technology with more power and lighter weight than its the unit used in the current Tucson FCEV.
But fear not, electric car lovers. Now Hyundai says it will have 8 all electric car models on sale in the next few years and will bring an electric version of its new Kona SUV to market in 2018. It also says an as yet unnamed luxury electric sedan with more than 300 miles of range will be ready by 2021. The sedan will be marketed as part of the Genesis premium brand lineup. No sketches or photos of the proposed car have been released yet.
Hyundai is placing bets across the entire automotive spectrum. Together with Kia, it offers the Ioniq/Niro twins in three versions — an advanced hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a battery electric car. The Ioniq is a 5 door hatchback sedan while the Niro is an SUV. The Kona is also a small crossover SUV,It is designed to go head to head with the cars that are smack dab in the middle of the hottest segment of the automotive market today, cars like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and Mazda CX-5 among others — cars that are often known as “cute utes” or “soft roaders.”
How the Kona electric will differ from the Kia Niro electric is unclear. Both cars appear to have similar dimensions and appearance. No matter, Hyundai isn’t scared. Smart styling, excellent reliability, a long warranty, and favorable quality ratings from Consumer Reports and JD Power have combined to make Hyundai/Kia the fifth largest car company in the world. Hyundai says it will have 8 battery electric cars on the road within a few years.
The premium Genesis electric sedan is obviously being groomed to take on the Tesla Model S — a tall order for any manufacturer. It will be the first car from the South Korean automaker built from the ground up to be electric and nothing but electric. Its current specifications match up well against the Model S, but Tesla will certainly have moved the goal posts by the time 2021 gets here.
Whether any manufacturer will be able to get out ahead of the Silicon Valley juggernaut is something we will have to wait to find out, but Hyundai is casting a wide enough net that is should have something for every taste and budget, a claim Tesla will not be able to make for quite some time to come.