June 13, 2021

Gp Delivers

The excellent automotive artisans

Hyundai, Kia use design to make their EV mark

With industry plans for 100 or more competing EVs in just the next few years, the Hyundai group aims to set itself apart by using design — along with advanced charging technology — to project its global EV ambitions. The group may have arrived late in an industry built on gasoline engines, but it intends to get a jump on rivals in the transition to electric vehicles.

“They are really putting a stake in the ground that says, ‘We as a company are going to show leadership in building these products,’ ” said Kevin Reilly, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council and owner of Alexandria Hyundai in Virginia.

“They are building a whole subbrand and a platform for the Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6, Ioniq 7,” Reilly said. Dealer training and facility plans are being rolled out for the Ioniq subbrand this spring.

Making a splashy arrival before there are too many EV competitors in the compact-crossover segment could be an advantage for Hyundai and its corporate siblings, including Genesis, analysts said.

Tesla’s Model Y crossover follows the familiar look of the popular Model 3, while Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is turning heads by leaning into its sporty heritage. In terms of price and range, the Y and Mach-E are lining up as premium rivals.

In contrast, Volkswagen’s ID4 is more evolutionary in design, since VW is aiming for a mainstream crowd at a price comparable to gasoline-engine counterparts — once tax credits and running costs are calculated. Nissan’s coming electric Ariya, likewise, has an appealing crossover shape that’s still forward-looking.

Hyundai and Kia haven’t announced pricing or trims for their new EVs, but they are likely to offer a spread of prices based on their medium-term EV volume goals as a whole. The Korean brands have been taking styling risks that have paid off on recent vehicles, such as the Hyundai Kona and Kia Telluride crossovers.

Whether bold styling translates to EVs, with something as distinctive as the Ioniq 5, is an open question.

“I think it’s cool, retro, futuristic,” Reilly told Automotive News last week. “Having something that really makes a statement will be appealing. In terms of EV adoption, you kind of want people to know you’re driving an EV. I think most people will like it. Some people won’t. That’s the nature of styling.”