The big and official news from Hyundai at the Washington Auto Show this week was that a bunch of people went to the website for the Tucson Fuel Cell CUV. But as Michael O'Brien, the vice president of corporate and product planning for Hyundai Motor America, was announcing that bit of news, an off-hand mention of something more battery-powered caught our ear.

Hyundai calls the hydrogen Tucson the "next-generation EV," but in the US, that H2 vehicle will actually beat an EV to the company's showrooms. There have been hints about a Hyundai EV in the US before – and the Korean company has shown off the BlueOn EV (pictured), based on the i10 – but O'Brien was willing to give a little bit more information on the still-nebulous EV plans.

"It will be a new product, that's all we can say right now"

The i10 electric vehicles have been in service since they were used at the G20 summit in Seoul, Korea in 2010 O'Brien said, but the EV that's coming to the US will be completely different. It will be a compact-class EV wearing the Hyundai badge (so, not the Soul EV from sister brand Kia) that could, based on demand, be sold in more locations than the Tucson Fuel Cell, which is going to be limited to places like California where there are hydrogen fueling stations. "It will be a new product, that's all we can say right now," O'Brien said. "It will be within the next three years. Not a firm production date, but soon."

In general, Hyundai is still more confident in hydrogen as the preferred zero-emission solution, and O'Brien cited range anxiety as the number one obstacle to EV adoption, with the slow recharge rate in second place. Still, strict emissions regulations mean that automakers will need to look at many options, and Hyundai is more ready than ever to dip its toes in the plug-in side of the pool.


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  • 52 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 11 Months Ago
      That is the old shape i10, which no doubt they have been doing the prototyping on. The new one, which presumably will be the platform that the EV is built on, looks like this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/car-manufacturers/hyundai/10227967/New-Hyundai-i10-unveiled.html Incredibly, in the old one at least there is room for 4 people, although certainly not for 5 and the luggage space is restricted. The new shape is a bit lower, but longer and wider and with a bit more luggage room. The longer wheel base should have improved the ride a bit, but it is already in a different class to the still shorter wheelbase Smart, and can genuinely be used for long journeys, although not of course with the same degree of comfort and noiselessness of a bigger car. It is nearly as big a doddle to part as the Smart though! ;-)
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        I meant to add, this is pretty much what the Renault Zoe would have been if they imported it to the States in accomodation and so on, but with Korean instead of French electrical reliability!
      EZEE2
      • 11 Months Ago
      All of you are wrong with this little car, or at least your reasoning on why it isn't good, are wrong. Haven't you learned by now I am infallible? Here is why: Yes the car is little and yes, it isn't very handsome. Fine. The 'little' is the only reason to hinder its success. When it comes to electrics, if this is just another 80-100 mile car, then yes, it will fail horribly. Hyundai is talking, however, about this being a second generation ev. So what does that mean? If it means a greater range, say, 150 miles, then look out. How many of you hippies out there are on the edge of your seats wanting an EV, but none are practical for your need? How many would sacrifice a little style to have an EV? Or size of the car? For me (radical right wing extremist) I would love one, but I have my boat to tow and of course, a fine vehicle for that that is paid off. But...no boat? Want a personal vehicle? The style of the car is so secondary, especially if it is an EV. Let's wait for the specs on this car before we deride it.
        EZEE2
        • 11 Months Ago
        @EZEE2
        @enviro One minor ensy little issue. The Mitsubishi has an estimated price of $50k, the Lexus is $47k, and my Beloved 2000 Ford Ranger ULEV FFV is paid off and never breaks down. I could pay cash for either one, but, I also could do lots of other fun things with the cash as well. Now....if the Ranger ever does die (which it won't), then I will have to make a decision. Hopefully by then (which is the end of time) there will be a more reasonably priced vehicle.
          • 10 Months Ago
          @EZEE2
          Fortunately for you Mazda makes the transmission. After Ford stole their technology, Ford dumps Mazda. Oh well Ford;s days are numbered.
        Envirocar
        • 11 Months Ago
        @EZEE2
        @ EZEE2 Tow a boat ? Is that the only thing keeping you from your hearts desire, and passionate commitment to driving a more environmentally responsible vehicle ? I have good news for you ! Lexus produce a hybrid (RX 450h ) with real towing capacity, or if your prefer, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, with less, but still adequate power, but if you feel really green, you can always prove your environmental credentials, by importing your own completely electric, fast charging, LHD, 200 + mile range LERR, with 2-3 tonne towing capacity. (The Lexus appeals to younger females, the Outlander to married/ divorced moms, and the LERR to the 'high maintenance' fashion conscious, débutantes, models etc ) So,.......the only question remaining, is which vehicle to buy ... :)
      chanonissan
      • 11 Months Ago
      next undercover admission, lease the FCV, but sell an EV, this is shown the FCV is not ready for the market.
      FIDTRO
      • 11 Months Ago
      I don't know about this Hyundai. Have you trained your "engineers" to properly calculate MPGs?
      Spec
      • 11 Months Ago
      In 3 years we get your back-up plan compliance car? Oh geee . . . thanks . . . I guess.
      mary.keana
      • 11 Months Ago
      I can't think of any Hyundai "innovations".
      ROLO
      • 11 Months Ago
      Maybe they should give it to china.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Nobody's gonna buy an electric car that looks like that, if that's what it's actually going to look like. Just give the Mitsubishi i-miev sales a look to see how your car is going to do. And project that it will do worse, because Mitsubishi's little car actually looks half decent compared to this. Why half ass it.. does someone need another compliance car while they waste their $ pursing the hydrogen pipe dream.. seriously..
        Grendal
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Hyundai has been leading all the other companies in the last few years in looks. You'd think they'd take the effort to make this look good too. This could be a testing platform and the final product doe have good looks, but we'll see.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          I totally agree.. pretty much all of their cars look very sharp on the road. The fuel economy and power is also very appealing for the $. The other company i like for design is Mazda. I think these two companies have even beat the Germans these days in terms of nailing the design element.
          Spec
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Good point . . . Hyundai has created some nice looking cars lately . . . so why does this one look so terrible? Jeez, just stuff some batteries into the Sonata . . . is that so hard?
        Actionable Mango
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        That's not what it's going to look like. RTFA. "but the EV that's coming to the US will be completely different"
      m_2012
      • 11 Months Ago
      That's not an EV, that's a golf cart. No wonder people don't take EV's seriously.
      DaveMart
      • 11 Months Ago
      Its clearly a small car. But it can seat four substantial people. Which is why I call it 'surprisingly roomy'. If you prefer a larger car, that is fine. But that does not mean that this can't do the job even for cross country, and it is excellent in the city.
      mary.keana
      • 11 Months Ago
      This will see a double whammy in resale values. Hyundai already has two of the top ten in price drops, and EV's are the worst at resale. http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2014/01/used-electric-car-prices-fall-in-january-luxury-suvs-gain.html
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mary.keana
        I wonder why that is the case? Here in the UK Hyundai are rated as the sixth most reliable brand, which usually shows up to some extent in resale values: http://www.reliabilityindex.com/manufacturer
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I've read it, thanks. Perhaps you don't consider cost of repairs of any interest, but most normal people do. To reach 6th out of 39 means that they don't break down very often as well as being cheap to repair. You should try understanding what you read.
          chanonissan
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          you should read what the index can reflect because it score high does not mean it is down infrequently, it could mean it cheaper to repair.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mary.keana
        That article about electric car prices is 100% bunk. A quick look at actual used EV prices disproves it so quickly, it isn't worth reposting. A good car is one that you would want to 'rock until the wheels fall off' anyway.
      Grendal
      • 11 Months Ago
      It looks kind of Spark-ish. It will come out in the next 3 years which is 2017. Roughly the same time as Tesla plans on putting out the Model E. This will certainly be less expensive than that but which one do you think Americans will buy? Also, by that time the Leaf will come out with its next generation and more than likely selling twice as many as they are now. Hyundai will be pretty far behind in the EV world by that time. Good luck to them, since I don't mind having more and more EVs available. They will be coming from behind though.
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        Since Korea is the home of much of the battery industry, I doubt they will be behind anyone with the battery technology they use. The little Hyundai's are much better put together than the Spark, at least here in Europe.
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        Yeah, it will be great if those companies that got into the game early and worked hard just cream the later entrants if those late entrants come out with crappy EVs that are blown away by the upgraded EVs from the early birds.
        m_2012
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        And once again another automaker taking the wrong approach by taking an existing ICE vehicle and trying to make a compliance EV out of it. You are right, this will be at least a generation behind everything else. Small with very limited range and capability. So much so it would probably be a danger for the 20 minutes it could go on the Interstate.
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