The Hyundai Ioniq will be available as a plug-in or traditional hybrid, but unlike the Prius, it is also available in pure electric form, making it the first vehicle to offer these three alternatives in one model.
The traditional hybrid drivetrain is expected to be the most popular of the three models globally. The plug-in hybrid is expected to outsell the electric-only form in Europe, but the electric-only form is expected to outsell the plug-in version in the US markets.
Hyundai sought to improve their electric drivetrain from the Sonata hybrid, choosing to go back to the drawing board and create something new rather than using existing specs. The result is an electronic engine that’s smaller and more efficient, and an engine specifically modified for hybrids.
A Competitive New Entry into the Hybrid Market
The Ioniq is anticipated to be competitive with the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf. The Leaf has the distinction of currently being the world’s most popular electric car. The Ioniq is Hyundai’s first time to dip a toe into the waters of the mass market with a really eco-friendly offering. The Ioniq will be revealed for the first time at a special event in Korea in January. After that, it will be on display at auto shows in Geneva and New York in March, and available for ordering later this year.
Hyundai Ioniq Dynamic Performance
The Ioniq has been designed for a promising performance, one that offers a dynamic ride and smooth handling. To create a lower center of gravity, engineers used a common sense approach and placed the lithium-ion battery towards the center of the car and lower to the ground. The lower center of gravity is expected to provide greater stability and handling. The Ioniq employs a rear multi-link suspension and a dual clutch six-speed transmission for improved fuel economy and performance.
A Simple, Lightweight and Efficient Engine Design
The Ioniq will feature a 1.6-liter four-cycle Atkinson-cycle direct injection gas engine that produces 108-pound feet of torque and an output of 105 horsepower. The electric motor puts out about 125-pound feet of torque and 43.5 horsepower for a combined output of 148.5 horsepower and 233 foot pounds of torque, taking it up a notch from competitor Prius.
The Ioniq’s one motor-one clutch is simple, lightweight and inexpensive, but challenging to an engineer because of the difficulty in synchronizing the spinning motor with engine speed prior to engaging them through the clutch. Hyundai was able to overcome the challenge by adopting a powerful central processor fast enough to manage a clutch lockup time of 0.6 seconds.
The Ioniq has a thermal efficiency of 40 percent – the world’s highest – owing to a long stroke design. Hyundai is aiming for best in class fuel efficiency, even surpassing the 50 mpg obtained by the Prius. However, specific fuel economy information is as of yet unavailable.
High Capacity Lithium Ion Technology
The Hyundai Ioniq is powered in part by high capacity lithium-ion batteries, and likely a significantly more powerful all-electric powertrain. More efficient and powerful lithium-ion batteries have replaced nickel-metal hydride as a power source in EVs and hybrids as the most promising batter chemistry. Lithium-ion is regarded as low maintenance and it does not require scheduled cycling to prolong the battery life. Self-discharge is half of that of nickel-cadmium, making lithium-ion with its high capacity and high energy density ideally suited for applications such as today’s modern eco-friendly vehicles. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries result in little potential harm to the environment when disposed.
Maximizing Potential with Lightweight Aluminum
The Hyundai Ioniq utilizes a heavy concentration of aluminum in a bid to reduce the car’s overall weight. Typically reserved for higher end brands like Porsche or Ferrari, lightweight aluminum helps to maximize fuel economy, and distance in the pure electric form. Aluminum is used for the tailgate and hood, a move that lightens the car in a way that gives a sense of tighter control when cornering. Front and rear wheel suspension components and the rear and back beams are also comprised of aluminum. All told, the use of aluminum in place of steel reduces the weight of these components by 45 percent. High strength steel has been applied where needed for crash protection, including small front overlap collisions.
South Korea’s Hyundai has created a prestigious new model in the Hyundai Ioniq. It’s already attracting consumer interest because of its hybrid features and elegant appearance. Early indications are that it will indeed emerge as a true rival to the Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf and other environmentally friendly models.