Hyundai's trio of new cars to challenge competition in electric vehicle market

Hyundai has a new pure-electric car, a new plug-in hybrid car, and a new regular hybrid car. All three look nearly identical, by design.

"We call it the power of choice. The new Hyundai Ioniq is available with three different powertrains, all with different buyers in mind," said Derek Joyce, a Hyundai spokesman, at the national media launch for the Ioniq line near Santa Barbara.

The new line of vehicles is Hyundai going full-steam into the electrified vehicle market.

The Ioniq Hybrid promises up to 58 miles per gallon, with a base price of around $22,000. A plug-in version of the hybrid with extra battery capacity will arrive late this year, and could do around 27 miles of electric driving. And finally, a pure plug-in Ioniq is coming in the spring. It has no engine at all and carries an estimated driving range of 127 miles. It starts at around $30,000 before any government rebates.

The trio of new vehicles is Hyundai going after the legendary Toyota Prius in a big way.

"One of the things about the Prius is that it's a very expressive design, whether you love it or hate it," said Christian Wardlaw, who was attending the media launch for the Ioniq on assignment for the New York Daily News. Further commenting on the Prius, Wardlaw added, "Unfortunately for Toyota, a lot of people aren't that crazy about it."

Hyundai likes to say that the Ioniq is more pleasing to the eye. And they're going Toyota one better, as far as choice. There is no purely electric version of the Prius. In fact, Toyota doesn't currently offer a pure battery electric vehicle at all.

So far, vehicles with some kind of battery power, including all hybrids, haven't been a huge player in the U.S. auto market. At their peak saturation in 2012, they were only about 3.8 percent of the overall vehicle market. But the future could be looking brighter for cars with battery power.

Hyundai says the Millennial generation will be buying more cars soon, and they're more open to electric vehicles, especially when living in urban areas. There's also another reason for the Ioniq to exist: government mandates on fuel economy.

"I think it's impressive that they built it from the ground up, specifically for electrification," said auto journalist Christian Wardlaw. "But I also do think the industry is heading toward electrification specifically because of federal regulations and mandates."

Whatever the reason, you should soon be seeing lots of Ioniqs on the road. They'll be using not much gasoline, even less gasoline, or none at all.
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