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Hyundai IONIQ 5, image courtesy Hyundai.

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Hyundai IONIQ 5 Outcompetes Tesla Model Y On Price And Charging Speed, But Not Ease-of-Charging Nor Production Volume

Hyundai has upped the ante in the battery electric vehicle stakes with the new IONIQ 5 midsized cross over, giving range up to ~500 km WLTP, 18 minute recharging, and prices starting in the low €40,000 range. The IONIQ 5 offers a similar size, similar range, similar efficiency, and faster charging than the Tesla Model Y, usefully pushing the EV technology frontier forwards and encouraging other manufacturers to keep up, ultimately benefiting consumers (and the EV transition).

Specs and Standout Features

Let’s have a look at the basic characteristics of the IONIQ 5:

The larger battery variant’s estimated WLTP range of 298 miles (~480 km) is very useful, and a rough match for the efficiency of the WLTP Tesla Model Y, given the similar 72.4 kWh battery size. The standout technical capability is the fast charging capability, able to recover from 10% to 80% battery in 18 minutes on 250+ kW CCS chargers. Peak charge rate is variously given as 220 kW or 232 kW (presumably these apply only to the larger battery), though as with all BEVs, this rate will probably only be seen in optimal conditions, and when the battery is fairly empty. In this situation, 5 minutes of charging can return up to 100 km of WLTP range.

The standard 58 kWh battery should scale to a WLTP range of around ~240 miles or ~385 km, and keeps the 18 minute charging (which should correspond to regaining ~80 km in 5 minutes in optimal conditions). It’s also worth noting that Hyundai’s BEVs usually achieve real-world ranges that are closer to their rated range than the BEVs from other manufacturers. This means that even the standard range variants should be very capable in the real world. Note also (in the table above) that the AWD variants have front motors optimized for efficiency, not crazy power, which should mean that – under steady highway cruising – they achieve efficiency (and range) not much different from the RWD versions.

Other features of note include a very comfortable looking cabin with adjustable seating front and rear, a heat pump available in cooler regions, 1600 kg towing on AWD versions, and two power outlets for 220/240 volts at up to 3.6 kW of total power. That’s a useful amount of offtake power, enough to keep most homes running at least essential equipment (and would have helped Texas residents with recent challenges).

There’s also a built-in solar PV panel option, though at 200 watts max output, this is only really designed to keep the battery trickle charged, or keep the cabin ventilated on a hot day, not to add meaningful driving range. Hyundai notes the PV panel could in principle add up to 5km per day (up to around 1 kWh) in ideal conditions in the sunniest regions.

Pricing and Availability

The IONIQ 5 is available for pre-order now in Europe, for delivery in summer 2021:

“Customers in Germany, UK, Norway, The Netherlands and France will soon have the opportunity to reserve one of 3000 IONIQ 5 Project 45 Limited Edition vehicles in Europe for an exclusive head start into the future of mobility. Available as a special introductory offer, it comes fully equipped with the highest trim and the complete range of cutting-edge smart tech including an advanced solar roof.” (Hyundai UK)

The generously loaded “Project 45 Limited Edition” launch variant (which presumably has the larger battery) will sell for £45,000 in the UK (price already includes the £3,000 government incentive). The price is estimated to be around (or just under) £40,000 for the entry versions which will come later. Germany pricing is estimated to come to around €50,000 (again already including incentives) for the “Project 45” launch variant, and around €42,000 for the later entry versions. These prices compare well to the Tesla Model Y Long Range which is currently listed to start from €58,000 in Germany.

The IONIQ 5 is currently planned for sale in North America sometime in the fall of 2021, though exact dates and pricing will come later.

Market Positioning And Competitiveness

The IONIQ 5 seems to offer better pricing than the similarly sized and specified Tesla Model Y (though Tesla likely has room to adjust pricing), and a somewhat faster recharging rate. Recovering from 10% to 80% in the Tesla Model Y takes around 23 minutes vs 18 minutes in the IONIQ 5, on paper at least.

However, in practical terms, Tesla still has the advantage of the highly developed, reliable, and easy-to-use Supercharger network, while the IONIQ’s headline 18 minute recharging performance depends on ultrafast CCS chargers which are still less ubiquitous in much of Europe and N. America. So far, only in Germany and the Netherlands has the high power (150+ kW) CCS network caught up with Tesla’s Supercharger network:

Charger maps courtesy of goingelectric.de and Tesla

Likewise, the IONIQ 5 probably won’t be competing with the Tesla Model Y on planned production volumes. At the end of 2020, Tesla was already able to make and sell over 16,000 Tesla Model Y per month, and that’s without still-starting-to-ramp Shanghai production volume, nor Berlin volume (due to ramp in H2 2021), nor Austin volume (also due to ramp in late 2021). These should combine to put Tesla’s Model Y production capacity at well over 500,000 units per year sometime in 2022, perhaps over 700,000 (if Tesla can price the Model Y for that amount of sales, which would put it close to the #10 global best seller spot).

Worth noting though is that Musk has just withdrawn the entry version of the Tesla Model Y from Tesla’s website, saying he’s doesn’t think the range (244 mile EPA rating) is enough. This may be the case in the road trip loving US, but is certainly not the case for many consumers in Europe and Asia, where this kind of range is in the sweet spot. Tesla will eventually need to offer a competitively priced entry version of the Model Y to achieve 700,000 unit volume in sales.

Hyundai’s current highest volume BEV, the Hyundai Kona, sells around 8,000 to 12,000 per month globally (and most of those in Europe), so less than 150,000 per year. This is still a decent volume compared to most BEV peers, but a different ballpark to Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. There’s no problem with demand for the Kona, which is one of the most competent and best value BEVs on the market, but Hyundai have been unwilling to make them in volume. One of the reasons for this has been thin margins, according to Thomas Schmid (CEO, Hyundai Europe) who said, back in 2018, “…As with all other manufacturers, we have the challenge that we don’t yet make money on EVs… The scale is not there… There is no financial incentive, but the incentive is the brand reputation.” (Translated)

However, based on the Hyundai Motor Group’s new e-GMP platform, and with an average European selling price presumably in the mid €40k range, the new IONIQ 5 should give positive margins for Hyundai, once it has ramped. Given the value proposition, there will be plenty of demand for the new vehicle. We can thus expect that planned production volume on the IONIQ 5 (with e-GMP siblings) should be much higher than the Kona, but is it likely to reach the 500,000+ planned global capacity of the Tesla Model Y?

All in all, the new IONIQ 5 is certainly an important new entrant into the BEV landscape. Like the Tesla Model Y, and the VW Group’s ID.4 (and Skoda Enyaq), the IONIQ 5 is pitched at the midsized cross over size category that is globally the most popular, right around 4600 mm in length. Recall that the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, and VW Tiguan are all in this size segment and are all regularly in the global top 6 best sellers list. Unlike smaller sized vehicles (e.g. Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Honda Civic), which are also popular (especially in Europe and Asia) these midsized cross overs support price points that give manufacturers some decent economic margin. This makes them the current sweet-spot for BEV economics, where there’s still some learning curve on costs, and technologies, as well as overall volumes.

With the pricing, capabilities, and features on offer, the IONIQ 5 will no doubt be in high demand, particularly in Europe, which may approach 20% plugin market share later this year. What do you think of the offering? Is Hyundai on to a good thing here? What could be the global demand for the IONIQ 5 and it’s e-GMP platform siblings in the long run? Please share your thoughts in the comments, and let us know if you are going to order one.

IONIQ 5 images and specs list courtesy of Hyundai.

 
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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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