Hyundai Motor Group`s Kona
Hyundai Motor Group, the owner of South Korea’s two largest automakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., aims to release an electric vehicle with a driving range of 390 kilometers on a single charge in the first half of next year, a company executive said on Wednesday.
Choi Woo-suk, director and head of environment technology test development center at Hyundai Motor, confirmed the electric vehicle’s release plan during a symposium on the era of electric vehicles at the National Assembly Members’ Office building in Yeouido, Seoul.
The new electric vehicle - from either Hyundai Motor or Kia Motors - is expected to offer the longest driving range on a single charge among electric cars that are scheduled for release until the first half of 2017n in the Korean market. Currently in the country, the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle by the United States’ General Motors Co. boasts the longest range of 383 kilometers, followed by Tesla Model S 90D that has a driving range of 378 kilometers when fully charged.
Among environmentally-friendly vehicles of domestic brands, Hyundai Motor’s IONIQ offers the longest driving range of 191 kilometers while Kia Motors’ Soul EV can drive 180 kilometers on a single charge. Their driving range is significantly shorter than that of other imported peers, making them less attractive to consumers. Automotive industry experts have blamed that Hyundai Motor lags behind its rivals in the EV market because it has focused too much on developing vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
As part of efforts to increase driving range and power of its electric vehicles, Hyundai Motor will install a high-capacity lithium ion battery with a capacity between 63 and 70 kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is more than double the capacity of the 24 kWh battery built in the IONIQ, in the upcoming electric vehicle.
According to Choi from Hyundai Motor, the motor group will diversify its battery suppliers to secure enough supplies and respond more flexibly to market demand. On top of its current supplier LG Chem, the company has also decided to receive batteries from SK Innovation Co. for its new electric vehicle.
Choi also hinted that the new electric vehicle would be compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) without disclosing further details about the model. “But it will not be based on Kia Motors’ Niro platform,” he added.
Industry insiders anticipated that the new electric car would use the chassis of either Hyundai Motor’s sub-compact SUV Kona slated for release this month or Kia Motors’ compact SUV Stonic due to be released in July, considering that there are only three compact SUV models by Hyundai Motor Group -Kona, Stonic, and Niro available in the market.
An SUV body that is generally roomier than that of a sedan will offer enough space for an electric vehicle battery and all related parts without killing useful space, Choi explained, adding that the new electric car will have more trunk space than the IONIQ electric vehicle.
By Park Chang-young
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