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Hyundai-Tesla battle looms in EV market

Makers of electric cars struggle to expand price range, maximize market share


Interior image of Ioniq 5. (Hyundai Motor)
Interior image of Ioniq 5. (Hyundai Motor)


Tension is escalating in the fast-growing all-electric vehicle market this year, as Hyundai Motor unveiled Monday the interior design of its Ioniq 5 model.

Market eyes were especially fixed on the South Korean automaker’s pricing strategy as the teaser release came in the wake of US competitor Tesla’s recent product launch and apparent penetration price policy to meet the government’s subsidy requirements.

With the Ioniq 5 model set to be unveiled in full via an online world premiere next Tuesday, Hyundai Motor announced only the interior design for the new electric vehicle -- the first to be built on the company’s exclusive electric vehicle operating platform.

The Ioniq 5 midsize crossover vehicle is noted for having ample space for both passengers and cargo, the carmaker said in a statement, attributing the improvement to the Electric-Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP.

The Hyundai-exclusive platform allows for an elongated wheelbase and flat floor, unlike in conventional crossovers built with internal combustion engines, officials said.

The E-GMP system also comes with a battery that enables driving over 500 kilometers on a single charge and an ultrafast charging system that allows vehicles to reach 80 percent of total capacity within 18 minutes.

Starting with Ioniq 5, Hyundai Motor Group is determined to win the initiative in the electric vehicle market, especially in pace with global electric vehicle front-runner Tesla. While the Ioniq 6 midsize sedan and Ioniq 7 large sport utility vehicles are slated to hit the market in 2022 and 2024, respectively, Hyundai’s independent prestige brand Genesis is also preparing to launch its own electric vehicle model this year.

One of the top challenges for Korea’s No. 1 automaker is the already notable presence of global competitor Tesla.

Under the Environment Ministry’s plan to provide subsidies for around 121,000 electric vehicles this year, around 75,000 passenger cars will likely be eligible for the benefit -- which means that electric vehicle makers will have to compete to make the cut.

During the Lunar New Year holiday last week, Tesla officially launched its new SUV Model Y in the Korean market, with prices starting from 59.9 million won ($54,437) -- just under the government’s subsidy ceiling of 60 million won.

The US carmaker also lowered the price for its conventional Model 3 sedan’s Long Range trim to 59.9 million won, down from 64.79 million won last year, marking the first price cut here.

Earlier this year, Seoul’s government confirmed its electric vehicle subsidy plan, allowing a 100 percent subsidy payment for cars priced 60 million won or less while offering only half the amount for those priced between 60 million won and 90 million won. Vehicles priced over 90 million won will be excluded from the subsidy.

Tesla’s pricing strategy is expected to act as the key variable for Hyundai Motor Group and its upcoming electric vehicle model sales. The Tesla Model 3 Long Range accounted for 35 percent of the domestic electric vehicle market, with 11,003 units sold as of end-2020.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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