Hyundai’s new Ioniq EV division already has a dealer here…

Komoco Motors will handle the new “Ioniq” standalone EV brand in Singapore. The first car is already here…

SINGAPORE — While it preps a new crop of electric vehicles, Hyundai has just launched a new electric car brand: Ioniq.

Hyundai now uses the Ioniq name on a electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid hatchback, but spinning it off into a standalone label signals that it has huge ambitions for battery-powered cars.

Hyundai Motor Group is also betting heavily on fuel cells for the long term, but within five years it wants to sell a million battery electric vehicles (BEVs). That amounts to a 10 percent market share and reflects its goal to be “a leader in the global EV field”. 

Where does “Ioniq” fit in?
As a new brand Ioniq will presumably be aimed at BEV enthusiasts, leaving Hyundai to continue selling combustion-engined cars to everyone else. Interestingly, the existing Hyundai Ioniq models will carry with their existing badge instead of morphing into, well, Ioniq models.

Hyundai has tried this strategy before. To seduce luxury car buyers it launched Genesis Motor in 2015. The upmarket division often draws comparison with Toyota’s Lexus label. The name came from a big, rear-drive luxury saloon with V8 or V6 engines that went on sale in 2008 as the Hyundai Genesis.

What’s the model strategy?
Hyundai says Ioniq’s cars will have model numbers; even numbers for saloons (or sedans, if you speak American) and odd numbers for sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Call 675 if you like these

Three cars labelled 5, 6 and 7 are on the way (or 6, 7 and 5 if you look at the image above).

The Ioniq 5 will be a mid-sized crossover that sees launch in 2021. It’s based on the EV 45 (below), a concept car that Hyundai showed at the Frankfurt auto show last September. 

Ioniq 5 in Singapore

2022 sees the Ioniq 6 roll into showrooms. Hyundai gave major hints about the car with the Prophecy (see what they did there?), a concept car (below) from March that was headed for a Geneva motor show debut until the world went to heck.

That leaves the Ioniq 7, which will be a large SUV that is set for launch in 2024.

What’s the hardware like?
The Ioniq cars will be built on an Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that Hyundai says will offer fast charging and “plentiful” driving range. The EV 45 (aka the Ioniq 5) is supposedly good for around 450km on a charge.

E-GMP is a skateboard design (with batteries under the floor), so Hyundai says it will offer plenty of cabin space. It says it wants to turn the vehicle interior into a “smart living space” so the Ioniq cars will come with highly adjustable sats and wireless connectivity.

Say goodbye to a normal glovebox; the dash will come with drawers instead.

Can I buy an Ioniq in Singapore?
A spokesperson for Hyundai distributor Komoco Motors said the company will handle Ioniq in Singapore, so if the Ioniq 5 shows up in right-hand drive form there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get your mitts on one.

Interestingly, in June pictures of what looked like a heavily camouflaged EV 45 concept car on Singapore roads turned up on the Facebook page of local car portal It’s clear now that the car in question was an Ioniq 5.

The rumour mill has it that the prototype is part of a Hyundai-NTU joint study; with public details of that might emerge in October.

That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Ioniq’s retail plans. It’s worth noting that Genesis was supposed to have been launched in Singapore by now, so whether Ioniq gets a timely launch here is an open question.

On the other hand, staff at Komoco Holdings say managing director Teo Hock Seng is an avowed electric car fan, who personally threw his weight behind Hyundai’s BEV offensive here, meaning he is a key reason the Kona Electric and Ioniq Electric are in Singapore.

Electric cars are for rich people in bungalows anyway, aren’t they?
To a certain extent, yes, because they work best for people with their own porch, for obvious reasons. But public charging infrastructure is growing all the time, and anyway the Government has said it wants internal combustion engines out of here by 2040.

BEVs are coming, whatever happens. BMW Asia is launching the Mini Cooper SE on August 24, while Porsche will start deliveries of its Taycan early next year. The BMW iX3 is due here in 2021, and so is its rival, the Mercedes-Benz EQC. Tesla is on a hiring spree in Singapore as it plots a comeback, as well.

What makes Hyundai think Ioniq will succeed?
While the car industry scrambles to launch battery-powered cars, Hyundai Motors has already been plugging away at the segment. 

Counting plug-in hybrid electric cars, the Hyundai-Kia group already ranks sixth in the world, behind Tesla, BYD, BAIC, BMW Group and Volkswagen Group but ahead of all Japanese carmakers.

Hyundai-Kia sold around 87,000 BEVs in 2019; some 45,000 of them were Kona EVs, enough to make it the seventh most popular full electric car in the world.

More interesting, Business Korea reported that in the first three months of 2020, Hyundai and Kia accounted for 9.9 percent of the world’s BEV sales, but only 8.9 percent of the world’s petrol and diesel car sales.

In other words, Hyundai Motor Group already has a bigger share of the electric car market than it does of the combustion car market. Ioniq might seem like a lofty idea, but it has a solid foundation.

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Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 26 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.