FOCUS ON: HYUNDAI
When it comes to powertrains, you can’t accuse Hyundai of having a narrow focus. If the drive to electrify is a race between competing technologies, then Hyundai has an each-way bet on all of them.
As well as being one of the handful of manufacturers with a production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Korean car maker sells EVs, plug-in hybrids, self-charging hybrids and 48V mild hybrids.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT?
A pure-electric version of the Kona crossover.
It’s an EV, so the car emits no carbon dioxide.
WHAT’S IT POWERED BY?
A 150kW (201bhp) electric motor. It’s really quite rapid, reaching 62mph in 7.9 seconds.
RANGE ON A CHARGE?
It has a range of 279 miles on the WLTP cycle. That’s considerably farther than the Nissan Leaf e+’s 239 miles on a single charge. The Kona Electric is also completely compatible with 50kW rapid chargers, and can achieve an 80% charge in 75 minutes.
IS IT TAX-EFFICIENT?
Very – if you can get one. Like the similar Kia e-Niro, the Kona Electric is a victim of its own success with a waiting list stretching well into 2020. But with 0% Benefit-in-Kind tax in 2020/21, then 1% the year after and 2% the year after that, company car drivers will be quids in. And if you can’t wait for the EV, there’s always the new hybrid Kona, which emits from 90g/km of CO2.
You’ll find mild-hybrid tech in the Tucson crossover range. The 48V system leads to competitive fuel economy and emissions, with CO2 as low as 113g/km for the 1.6 CRDi 136PS 2WD manual. That’s competitive rather than outstanding.
The Ioniq is a better example of Hyundai’s broad approach to electrified powertrains. There are no conventional petrol and diesel versions at all. Instead, company car drivers have the choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric models.
The common-or-garden hybrid has an impressive WLTP combined figure of 62.8mpg, and emissions of 84g/km. That matches the benchmark Toyota Prius for CO2, and manages to beat it by a whisker for average fuel economy.
Pick the plug-in instead and the Ioniq will travel up to an official 39 miles on electric power alone. Hyundai says the total range is ‘more than 660 miles’. Carbon dioxide emissions drop to just 26g/km, making the plug-in a very tax-efficient choice.
Of course, if you go for the pure electric model carbon emissions are absolutely nothing. The pure EV model is also compatible with 50kW rapid chargers, which the plug-in hybrid Ioniq is not. The range is 194 miles (NEDC).
Hybrids and EVs have become very much mainstream choices over the past couple of years, but production hydrogen vehicles are still a rarity.
Hyundai was early to champion hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with the ix35 Fuel Cell, launched in 2015, and it has kept faith with hydrogen power with the Nexo SUV. Unlike the ix35 Fuel Cell, the Nexo is available in right-hand drive. Its 414-mile range puts those of most EVs to shame, but the sparse refuelling network limits the Nexo’s appeal.
Hyundai is investing heavily in autonomous driving as well as electrified powertrains. ‘Level 4’ autonomous tech is currently undergoing testing in the Autonomous Ioniq research vehicle.
‘Level 4’ autonomy is described as “the car is fully autonomous in some driving scenarios, although not all. Therefore, this level can be referred to as ‘highly automated’.”
The Autonomous Ioniq uses sensors already fitted to production models, such as the car’s Smart Cruise Control’s forward-facing radar, blind-spot detection radars in the corners of the vehicle and Lane Keeping Assist camera, which are integrated with LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – technology (pictured right).
The Big Test – Hyundai Kona Electric: