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Smaller, Cheaper Electric SUVs Coming From Hyundai/Kia, Volkswagen, And ?

Hyundai Motor Group and Volkswagen are both working on small, electric SUVs that will sell for $22,000 or less — maybe a lot less.

Yesterday, my colleague Paul Fosse reported on the BYD EA1, a small crossover electric SUV that has a range of about 200 miles and a base price of under $15,000. It will only be available in China for now, but Paul thinks it has the potential to become a world car similar to the original Volkswagen Beetle.

Why? First, because it’s small enough for many of the world’s most densely populated cities while still having room for 4 or 5 people plus a modicum of stuff. Second, it has enough range to meet the needs of the vast majority of drivers. Not everybody needs a land yacht that can carry 7 people, 4 mountain bikes, two kayaks, and a partridge in a pear tree. Getting to work and back with a stop at the grocery store and the mall is what most people need the most. Third, at around $15,000, there is no reason why most people who need a new car can’t afford one.

The BYD EA1 may be a gamechanger, but it will hardly have the field to itself. The folks at Hyundai Group are planning something similar, as are the powers that be at Volkswagen. Chances are other automakers are getting ready to pile into that market segment as well.

Hyundai & Kia Have A Small Electric SUV In The Works

AutoExpress reports Hyundai Motor Group has inked a deal with Borg Warner for an electric SUV-type urban vehicle that will go into production in mid-2023. There is no word yet whether it will be badged as a Hyundai or a Kia (or both?), but it will be somewhere between 137 and 145 inches long, which means it will be roughly the size of the Chevy Spark and the Volkswagen e-Up!

In other words, it will be small car designed for congested city driving. Acceleration and top speed will not be a priority. Slipping in an out of tiny parking spaces with enough range to handle daily driving chores will be. Oh, and low price. Don’t forget that! The new car will be one that ordinary people can afford without taking out an 8-year loan.

Borg Warner will supply HMG with its latest electric drive module for the car, which combines the motor and gearbox into one bolt-in unit. That setup saves space and weight compared to a normal electric drivetrain. The unit is said to have 135 kW (181 hp) of power. It includes a modular inverter that could make it easy to lower the output to around 100 horsepower, which would be more than adequate for a car this size. The new car will feature the same 400-volt architecture used in the Hyundai Kona electric, which should allow the city car to add 99 miles of range in 30 minutes using a 50 kW DC fast charger. AutoExpress expects the car to come with a 40 kWh battery and have about 200 miles of range.

The price! Tell us the price! Well, actually we don’t know. The company hasn’t had anything to say on that subject. Autoblog points out the 145-inch long Hyundai i10 carries a base price of €12,090 ($14,200) while the similarly sized Kia Picanto costs €11,790 ($13,900). Does that mean the new small SUV from Hyundai Motor Group could break the $15,000 price barrier? Maybe.

Autoblog does show a photo (above) from an HMG press event earlier this year that shows a small Kia Soul-type vehicle. Is it a hint of what the rumored small electric SUV might look like? When we know more about price and styling, you’ll know more.

Volkswagen ID.2 & ID.1 In Development

In March of this year, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess made a trip to Spain to announce his company was ready, willing, and able to manufacture electric cars in that county if the European Union and Spain were willing to support the effort with economic incentives. Apparently, Diess has gotten his wish.

According to AutoExpress, Volkswagen is getting ready to introduce smaller and cheaper all-electric ID. models, starting with the ID.2 baby SUV and followed by a supermini ID.1 later. Both cars may be manufactured by SEAT in Spain, the report says.

The smaller vehicles will be built on a modified version of the MEB chassis known as MEB Entry, which is expected to spawn at least four new models in the middle of the decade from Volkswagen, Skoda, and SEAT.

The ID.2 should be about the same length overall (162 inches, 4108 mm) as the T-Cross, and the height of the seating should be similar, but cabin space is likely to be comparable to that of the larger T-Roc because the electric powertrain allows the front and rear wheels to be spaced further apart than they would be in a conventional car. The ID.2 is expected to go on sale in 2025 with a target price of under €20,000 before subsidies and incentives.

Several battery sizes will be offered, with the least expensive version having a 30 kWh battery and a range of about 120 miles. It is believed the MEB Entry chassis will accommodate up to a 45 kWh battery, making the top range for the ID.2 around 180 miles. Frank Blome, head of battery technology for Volkswagen, says the company may use different battery chemistries to get to different ranges and price points. LFP battery cells may be an option. LFP has gained popularity recently after Tesla began using it more to avoid rising nickel prices. “These cells are cheap and robust,” Blome says. “They can withstand many charging cycles and this makes them very promising for vehicles with short ranges.”

The ID.2 is all but certain to be produced alongside sister vehicles from SEAT and Skoda in a Spanish factory, probably Barcelona, says AutoExpress. Volkswagen confirmed last month that Spain will be the base for the third of the company’s six planned battery cell factories. It could be located near the VW factory in Navarra, which makes the Polo and T-Cross, or near the production facility in Catalonia that currently makes four SEAT models as well as Audi’s Q3 and A1.

What will the ID.2 look like? There are no official photos yet, but Ralf Brandstätter, head of the Volkswagen brand, told Auto Bild recently that visitors to the Munich Motor Show in September could see “a vision for an electric car that does not yet exist. Around 20,000 Euros, compact, with features that you would not expect in this class.” Sweet!

Such cars will be of no interest to US drivers (other than a few CleanTechnica readers) because people in that country feel the need to drive humongous gas guzzlers the size of rhinoceroses in order to validate their sense of American exceptionalism. For the rest of the world, however, smaller, less expensive electric cars could be just the thing to put the EV revolution into overdrive.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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