250-Mile Electric Car From Hyundai Planned For 2020

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

Hyundai is aiming to release an electric car with a 250-mile range by 2020, according to the company’s Director of Eco-Vehicle Performance Development Group Byung Ki Ahn.

The plans were revealed in a recent interview that Ki Ahn gave to Autoblog, where he confirmed that the company would be releasing a 200-mile EV in 2018.

Hyundai logo

These two approaching electric vehicle (EV) offerings will follow Hyundai’s release of the electric version of the Ioniq later this year. The all-electric version of the Ioniq will possess 110 miles of range, reportedly.

Autoblog provides more on the recent news:

Hyundai already had revealed its plan to offer 26 new green models by 2020, including plug-ins, hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but there were no specific details about the EVs mentioned there.

The EV world will be quite different in four years, but Hyundai thinks it has a strategy to get its customers prepared for the launch of the three Ioniq models, which include a plug-in hybrid and a standard hybrid, and future EVs. Until now, the company believes, according to Chris Hosford, Hyundai’s corporate communications executive director, the automotive industry has not yet adequately communicated the advantages and differences of plug-in vehicles to customers. As Hyundai prepares to flood the market with green models in the next few years, expect lots of educational materials to come from Hyundai dealerships, as well as commercials. “We know there is a lot of education necessary,” Hosford said.

That’s certainly true. The general public remains woefully ignorant of the many electric vehicle incentives available in the US (and often elsewhere as well). A recent survey even revealed that the vast majority of Californians are apparently unaware of the $7,500 federal tax credit, and also of the state’s own (generous) rebate for EV purchases.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

76 thoughts on “250-Mile Electric Car From Hyundai Planned For 2020

  • Fool cell is fool’s gold.

    • It’s not the fuel cell car technology that’s the problem, it’s the procurement and availability of hydrogen itself, that, and the problems of storing it, who wants thousands of possible Hindenburgs tootling around-;)

        • There’s a problem with that linked article…

          “You won’t even go 100 miles on current tech hydrogen tanks that are still safe to carry around in a car

          The Mirai has a 312 EPA range. I don’t know if 100 miles is an unfixed typo or whether it throws doubt on the rest of the article.

          I’ve started reading that piece a few times and get hung up on the 100 mile claim.

          • when did his experience with the tech stop? also I’ve heard Toyota accused of using higher than safe pressure with the Mirai, though they may have just been moaning it was higher than Honda and the others.

          • I haven’t heard anything about Toyota running at unsafe pressure. The Honda Clarity has a 240 mile range. Might be interesting to compare tank sizes and curb weights.

            I doubt that Toyota would market something with an unsafe pressure level. The liability would be a real problem if they knowingly did that. And the problem would show up very quickly when people started looking at the psi needed to obtain range.

          • Hi Bob. Wouldn’t it be more logical to store the H as a liquid ?
            (Just asking)… Regards, Greg.

          • Takes a lot of energy to liquefy hydrogen. Significantly more than just compressing it for FCEV use. Look at the difference on the left hand part of the chart.

            And the tanks have to be well insulated in order to prevent boil off. That might cause a size/volume problem.

            When you look at the energy cost for running on hydrogen (bottom numbers on chart) with FCEVs needing 3x as much energy input and at the extra infrastructure (electrolysis, compression, transportation) it’s hard to see a route for hydrogen to become a player.

            We’d have to build electrolysis plants on the scale of oil refineries. We’d need to build even more fuel stations as FCEVs would need to refill more often that ICEVs. And it would take about 10x as many tankers to haul the hydrogen based on its low energy density compared to gasoline. All that cost would need to be folded into the cost of hydrogen. Along with the 3x higher input electricity cost.

            The only advantage FCEVs had was range and speed of refill.

            With EVs now matching FCEV range there’s no range advantage left. Plus EVs will likely increase range as batteries improve, FCEVs may be maxed out in terms of how much hydrogen can be stored without eating up passenger/luggage space.

            Speed of refill is a limited advantage. EVs are going to charge faster as chargers get more powerful. With ~250 mile ranges one could drive long enough that taking a twenty minute, half hour meal break wouldn’t be too onerous. And that would happen only on long trips. FCEVs would have to fill up almost weekly while EV drivers would simply plug in when parked.


          • Indeed, hydrogen for “small” vehicles (anything lighter than 10 tons, say), is completely pointless for the reasons you mentioned and a few others. If someone could figure out how to build much cheaper electrolysis equipment, however, hydrogen could become an important part of the renewable energy mix, perhaps more at utility scale. It can store excess renewable energy for hours or months, it can be a precursor to synthetic jet fuel or diesel.

            Currently, hydrogen production equipment is way too expensive. so much so, that hydrogen is most economically produced by stripping the H2 off of natural gas and venting the CO2 – a terribly misleading form of greenwashing IMHO. Electrolysis R&D could be a healthy thing for society to invest in.

          • How often do you need to fill to have your car at the ready, say I have a month vacation and no plans to leave the house and a full tank(s) of H2, when do I need to add more so it’ll be ready for my next trip without standing me from leakage?

          • I haven’t seen anything about the Mirai or Clarity leaking or not leaking. I would think it possible to install a cutoff valve at the tank which would make leaks unlikely. Keep the potential ‘leak while parked’ points to one per tank.

          • I was referring to the tendency for hydrogen to just pass through the walls of its container over time. How long until a car at rest has a dry tank?

          • No I didn’t feel it’s unsafe, only heard people whining about it either their competitors or commenters but I have no doubt their lawyers would stop them from putting out something too life threatening.

            The claims that their higher pressures waste more energy I do agree with because it’s true on the pump-side, but it helps them reach a practical range (assuming a proper density of refueling stations)

          • There were several reports that Mirai requires huge pressure to fill their tanks completely. A lot of the current H2 fueling stations can only provide half of that pressure. Therefore the re-fillable range is also cut in half (156mi).

            Then you have the problem of the range spent exclusively on refueling. This is zero for EVs since you usually recharge at home. This is not possible with H2 so you go to a refueling station which are VERY rarely placed at the moment. A trip to the H2 station may take 20-50 mi easily, depending on the circumstances so the actual utilizable range is not far from 100mi in case of the Mirai.

          • I read the pressure problem as belonging to the fueling stations, not the Mirai. The available stations just couldn’t compress enough. And certainly couldn’t compress rapidly enough to be functional.

            I assume that that problem, along with having enough stations, would be overcome if FCEVs made economic sense.

            If we didn’t have EVs and could get the fueling cost down to about 10c/mile then H2 FCEVs would be acceptable for getting us off oil. But at under 3c/mile for EVs I don’t see FCEVs having a chance.

          • Interestingly, when Kyle and I were test driving a Fiat 500e in Santa Monica, we saw a Mirai ad, Kyle pointed it out, and the sales guy said that some with a Mirai had just traded it in at their dealership (getting humongously burned money-wise) because he realized how big of a mistake he made.

            The advertising for these vehicles is really deceitful. And the tech is basically a scam, in my eyes — how the automakers are using it, that is.

            @neroden:disqus thanks for the link! i will share the love.

          • You’re welcome. It’s not the only debunking of hydrogen fuel cells for cars, but it is one of the most *comprehensive*. He repeatedly points out that even if you overcome a bunch of the technical obstacles, you end up with an extremely energy-inefficient operation. The key points are actually in parts 2 and 3:

            — Compressing hydrogen is lossy and hard
            — Hydrogen embrittlement makes logistics even harder
            — Hydrogen from electrolysis is expensive and inefficient
            — Hydrogen from steam reforming of natural gas is dirty, CO2 generating, and not very efficient either
            — PEM fuel cells are inefficient
            — Other fuel cell designs are unsafe to put in cars
            — The platinum requirements are very large, making the technology very expensive

          • The writing is from 2012 when the Clarity was the only available FCV (did it have that range in 2012?). It’s explained in the comments below the post.

          • Time to edit. Having an untrue statement up front hurts the rest of the article.

          • Yeah a simple update note or editorial remark about its age

      • Hydrogen has incredible potential to be part of a healthy renewable energy economy, but not for regular passenger cars and it’s nowhere near ready today. Here’s why and how:
        – Hydrogen is a great precursor to cheap, synthetic jet fuel, synthetic diesel. Society is very unlikely to agree to retire billions of ships, aircraft, etc before they’re worn out because of carbon pollution. So finding a clean way to make fuels to power this infrastructure is important
        – Hydrogen can store excess renewable energy for overnight or even from summer to winter on utility scale. Batteries can’t come close to storing meaningful power for 6 months
        – Hydrogen is a precursor to methane, which can drop into the existing natural gas infrastructure for industry or other applications that will take decades to electrify. Again, making a cleaner drop-in fuel.
        Problem with hydrogen today is that the capital equipment for electrolysis is an order of magnitude too expensive. If R&D could reduce the cost of electrolysis hydrogen production dramatically, it would open up numerous renewable energy possibilities. Today, it’s so expensive, that the normal way to “make” hydrogen is to “reform” natural gas, strip hydrogen off the natural gas and vent the CO2 into the atmosphere. This approach accomplishes nothing from an environmental standpoint and creates a distraction from battery technology development (the Mirai, for example).

        • ” Hydrogen can store excess renewable energy for overnight or even from summer to winter on utility scale. Batteries can’t come close to storing meaningful power for 6 months”

          Pump-up hydro and flow batteries can store large amounts of energy at far better efficiencies.

          ” If R&D could reduce the cost of electrolysis hydrogen production dramatically”

          That’s an ‘if’ too far. Electrolysis is already highly efficient. It takes energy to break the hydrogen/oxygen bond. That’s where the cost/inefficiency lies. We’d need to find a way around the laws of physics. (Alchemy)

          It’s likely battery capacity will improve enough to allow battery powered ocean shipping. (I need to finish the math. Anyone interested in working with me?)

          • I still have the last post about shipping open…wanted to look into it when I would find the time. There is data about fuel per teu and some other stuff I dug up but I didn’t find the time to look into it further yet.

          • I’ve got the data for fuel and engine weight and volume for a typical China to US West Coast haul. Large container ship.

            Now need to do the battery work. Need to figure out the weight/volume for lithium-ion batteries like Tesla is using and for other batteries with higher Wh/kg and Wh/l batteries that are in use. And to calculate the Wh/kg and Wh/l that would allow a straight weight and volume exchange.

          • The needed energy is also very dependent on cruising speed. There will likely be a huge margin.
            The there is another problem with ships. They are built to fit through canals. If they where to be built for efficiency they would look completely different.

          • Well, in 5 years or so a lot can use Arctic Ocean and skip canals ;(

          • I’m using normal cruising speed.

            Container ships are about to get larger with the larger locks now open in the Panama Canal.

          • Solar could be a great combo for shipping as either EVs or sail hybrids, the panels could be the sails.

          • Not enough area.

          • How much would they need and what happened to the concepts where the sails were an array of really tall airfoils, looked like planes wings standing on end, covered in panels?

            How long would it take to get enough efficiencies? Also couldn’t they do limited regen braking when not underway say sitting in a strong current not making any particular effort to go forward, say in some sort of holding pattern or slowing on approach to a tug?

            I remember reading about an electric tug a few years back

          • Not even if everything horizontal on ship was a solar panel? Seems solar panels keep being promised everywhere and in everything. And we are talking future. Cover top containers on a container ship for instance. If could generate even 10% of kWh required for whole voyage, that would seem big enough to pay for the investment.

          • Pumped hydro is likely to be a cornerstone of utility scale short term storage with high renewables. Known tech, established, reasonably affordable.

            Doesn’t power airplanes and cost for summer to winter storage is prohibitive though.

            If history is any guide, then then something like 80% of the Airbus, Boeing, military vehicles, ocean freighters and so on built this decade will remain in service in the 2050s. If a more direct path from PV to powering those can be found over biofuel, that’s a win.

          • Pump-up hydro is about 85% efficient. Put in 4c/kWh electricity and out comes 4.7c/kWh electricity.

            Hydrogen is very inefficient. About 30%. Put in 4c/kWh electricity and out comes 13.3c/kWh electricity.

            Water is stored in large holes in the ground.

            Hydrogen is stored in expensive tanks.

            Sounds to me as if it will make more sense to do seasonal storage with PuHS.

            The nice thing about PuHS is that the infrastructure can be used for daily cycling needs while also serving for “seasonal” storage.

            I put seasonal in quotation marks because it’s unlikely we will actually do seasonal storage (outside of normal hydro). There are plenty of energy inputs in the summer and winter. It will likely make more sense to overbuild for the spring and fall rather than store energy for months.

        • Good points, Freddy. You’ve basically made the most accurate description of the most realistic optimistic case for hydrogen which is possible. I’m not as optimistic, but your arguments are fair (unlike the claims of most hydrogen advocates).

    • Hyundai are announcing battery and hybrid models here, not fuel cell ones. The inference is that the latter are on the back burner. Quite right too.

  • I think the headline should have been 200 miles by 2018, not the 250 by 2020.
    Besides, if you have 200 by 2018, the 250 by 2020 just stands to reaso
    And come on Nissan, we’re waiting.

    • Not sure Tesla’s (or others) batteries are supposed to improve by 25% in 2 years, but that would be nice.

      • They could build a 500 mile car last year.. just not for an affordable price 😉

        • How heavy would it be.

          • 800kg for a 200kWh pack.

          • If solid state lithium can do an insane number of cycles – you could make the batteries a part of the chassis and doors.

    • I wish Nissan wasn’t so secretive/quiet, either. :- I want to know when to expect not only the “LEAF 2.0”, but also the e-NV200 and its specs.

      • They would risk an Osborne effect, which is what really hurt GM and the Volt sales.

        • I think they are already suffering from it due to previous announcements over a year ago. + the Model 3 and Bolt and increasing competition in the market, of course.

    • They are protecting the existing models. Careless talk costs sales.

    • Let’s just note here that the Tesla Model 3 will do “at least 215 miles” by 2017/2018.

      • Agreed. I just meant that the 2020 date was less relevant since we already have two 200 mile cars that are imminent. Leading with the 200 by 2018 means “we are ready to compete now”. The goalposts are not going to be in the same place by 2020.

        • Agreed. I wasn’t trying to negate your point. I should have written “also note” instead of “just note”.

  • OK, so 200 mile + cars in 2018. That makes the third carmaker (after GM and Tesla). Next questions:
    — fast charging?
    — sticker price?

    At the moment fast charging is the killer advantage which Tesla has over all the others. It is startling that none of the others has attempted to counteract this advantage by setting up their own fast charging or cooperating with Tesla.

    • Hm.. ask the other way around – who needs fast charging and when does he need it?
      Are those mass markets or niche/low volume?
      Can it be served by a higher cost of the vehicle.. like a.. Model S for example?
      We might actually witness that they approach the BEV scale up from the (near the) bottom (not as Tesla from the top) and once the BEV’s really go mainstream each will pack a range of 250-300 miles.

      • The mass markets demand fast charging for their once-a-year road trips.

        That’s basically what’s going on. It’s not used very often, but it’s a feature people really really want.

        There’s a reason Tesla charges most of the cost of the Supercharger network to the *marketing* budget!

        • “There’s a reason Tesla charges most of the cost of the Supercharger network to the *marketing* budget!”
          — I didn’t realize that, but makes sense. Do you have a link for that?

          • Hmmph, I don’t. It was revealed a while back in a quarterly report accouting footnote, if I remember correctly… *not* the easiest thing to find again…

    • BMW and Nissan have both made commitments to evgo supporting evgo expansion in return for giving their users free access. Not everyone needs to create a proprietary network of station that only work with their brand of cars.

      • EVgo barely has a network, and its chargers are too slow. 😛 Other than that, great.

        • EVgo barely has a network (you can’t get from one charger to the next), and its chargers are too slow. 😛 Other than that, great. — neroden

          That isn’t what you said. You said no other car company was working on building a fast charging network. That is incorrect and I was pointing that out and giving an example. You might not feel it is a good network but they are working on building a network.

          • I think that’s because he doesn’t consider this “fast charging.” I’d encourage neroden and others to use the term “super-fast charging” to clarify things here. But agree with the point. 1 hr of charging after 2 hrs of driving simply isn’t fast enough for long-distance trips.

      • 1) It is startling, and perhaps the biggest sign that automakers aren’t really trying.

        2) The EVgo and other such “fast charging” networks are infamous for low reliability, poor placement of chargers, and not fast enough charging. They need to move up to 130–150 kW.

  • Anything over 200 miles on single charge pretty much takes care of the “range anxiety” for most of the daily commuters concidering buying an EV. The more important issue auto industry should be concentrating on is faster recharging times. Personally I would be happier to pay less for a smaller battery, say the one that can do 150 miles on a charge, but pay a little more to be able to recharge it to full in a couple of minutes rather then some hours, or even a good fraction of an hour.

  • Some may think 200 miles an overkill, but I see two reasons why the bigger the battery (until it reaches ICE ranges) the better. First is that with a very long range battery, the vehicle can suffice as the only car necessary for one-car families. It can be used for commuting as well as cross-country trips. The only rub here is that Tesla is the only manufacturer that sees the total picture and has created a viable fast charging network. All that is necessary is to have a car that will drive long enough that most any driver would welcome a break and a meal. Second, with a large battery the user only needs to use just the middle portion for commuting. It would not need to be charged fully, nor discharged to a low level, both of which will help with the life of the battery.

    • If GM’s Bolt is a decent 200+ mile range EV and they sell tens of thousands we’re going to see a push for a Tesla-like rapid charging system.

      Perhaps we’ll see a private company start building a small number of ‘superchargers’ along main interstate routes. At least create the ability to drive high use routes like LA SF in a Bolt.

      • Yes. We see the electric utilities have a monopoly and at least where I live only can the utilities sell by the kWh. At the same time they are discouraging home owner PV by assessing charges specifically to solar owners. The rationale is that the solar owners are not paying their fair share of the grid costs. It seems to me that the costs of the grid should be assessed to everyone that is connected to the grid and one group of customers should not be singled out. Anyway, that is another whole can of worms. What I would really like to see is that the electric utilities see EVs as another source of income by providing EV charging stations through out their territory.

        • Cost breakeven for grid defection is coming fast. One (poor) strategy to prevent that is to buy by-laws which condemn properties without a grid connection.

          • Don’t think you’ve figured in the cost of deep backup for those times when the Sun kicks back for a few days in a row.

            (I’ve been off the grid for over 25 years. One does not go off the grid in order to have less expensive electricity.)

    • Adding to the list – ability to maintain a useful amount of range even when cold and hot weather impact the range of the vehicle.
      Not only limiting the charge for commuting to the middle range of the pack, but reducing the number of charges needed to commute the same number of miles which should increase battery life as well.
      A large pack also gets people past the psychology of needing a huge range by giving them a huge range.
      Price permitting, I’ll be purchasing the larger battery pack in the Model 3.

  • Too late, the market will be consumed by then.

    This is like Microsoft saying they’re bringing out the Zune 3 years after the iPod came out.

    Timing is everything, maybe they didn’t get that memo.

    • The most optimistic EV forecast I have seen is 35% of new car sales by 2040.

      Tesla will be doing fabulously well to have 1% of the new car market by 2020.

      • Tesla has a decent shot at 1% by 2020-2022. And they may have introduced a ~$25k EV by then.

        I think the market will flip a lot faster than 35% by 2040. If we are reading the market correctly there will be burst of demand for long range EVs selling for under $30k and most traditional manufacturers will have to respond or see their companies lose market share.

        If GM and one or two more companies produce a no-BS 200+ mile EV by 2020 then the big flip will happen. Ten years to more than 75% of new car sales is my current guess.

        • I don’t know how Tesla will get the model 2 into production in five years. They likely have a number of good variants they can do on the model 3 platform. Two new car factories and two new gigafactories may be needed just for the model 3 platform.

          Musk’s recent interest in manufacturing throughput is likely the result of understanding the implications of the scale needed to meet potential demand. Tesla may be light 50-80 billion on the balance sheet to meet full model 3 demand (all variants) and mass produce the model 2 in high volume.

        • Now is the time to use the forums to log in that prediction :).

      • A) Battery prices will either come down sufficiently that EV’s beat ICE’s for price and performance – 100% EV sales


        B) Battery prices remain stuck at their current level making them a niche for high-end cars – Max 10% EV sales

        I’d say anyone projecting some middling estimate has made fundamental errors in their assumptions. People will not buy an inferior product at the same price level. Either EV’s will reach mid and low-range price level’s or they won’t.

        • Basically (A) has already happened. It just isn’t obvious yet because companies are keeping their battery cost structure secret as a proprietary advantage.

      • OK, newnodm, I’ll give you a more optimistic EV forecast: 100% of new car sales worldwide by 2030. There, now you’ve seen a more optimistic forecast. 🙂

        Tony Seba has a presentation where he shows how quickly automobiles displaced horses-and-carriages once they took off. The same will happen with electric cars, because gasmobiles are simply an inferior product.

        • I was quoting Bloomberg New Energy Finance, IIRC. Tony Seba makes money telling people what they want to hear.

    • The size of the market is staggering. There is plenty of room for 50+ more models of 200+ EPA miles range BEVs. This announcement is great news and I’m thrilled Hyundai is rapidly moving forward with electric vehicles. Competition is exactly what’s needed to drive prices down and functionality up.

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