Hyundai To Challenge Prius Dominance With Dedicated Ioniq Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, EV

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Toyota turned quite a few heads when it launched the fourth generation Prius in September — and not in a good way. While the Prius could always be described a somewhat quirky, its styling was for the most part inoffensive. However, the company wanted to inject a lot more flare into the new model. "As a concept, we were thinking Lady Gaga,” said Chief Prius Designer Shunsaku Kodama. “We wanted to be more extreme in our design."

The folks at Hyundai, however, are having none of that. The company is on the verge of releasing its first dedicated hybrid model, the Ioniq, for the U.S. market, and it wants to make sure that it appeals to as many people as possible. And if the teaser shot of the vehicle that Hyundai posted today is any indication, it appears that the company may have a hit on its hands if eco-friendly American drivers don’t warm up to the Prius’ outlandish new styling.

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Hyundai only provided a render of the vehicle’s profile, but it looks rather clean and unadorned — part Kia design language, and part first generation Chevrolet Volt. Spy photos, which show heavily camouflaged versions of the Ionic scampering on Americans streets, showcase the middle-of-the-road design and conventional (for a hybrid) interior layout.

The spy shots of the Ioniq, which is based on an all-new vehicle platform, also show that vehicle be tested alongside the Nissan Leaf, the Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, and BMW i3. That eclectic mix of vehicles that Hyundai is benchmarking against reveals one of the more remarkable aspects about the Ionic: it will be offered in three distinct models. Hyundai will give customers the choice of a standard hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or a dedicated all-electric model.

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“Hyundai Motor has a heritage of building innovative, fuel-efficient vehicles, so we are proud to advance our eco-friendly car line-up with the introduction of IONIQ. Our vision for future mobility focuses on choice, with a variety of powertrain options to suit customers’ varied lifestyles, without compromising on design or driving enjoyment,” said Woong-Chul Yang, Head of the Hyundai Motor R&D Center. “IONIQ embodies Hyundai Motor’s vision to shift the automotive paradigm and future mobility; IONIQ is the fruit of our efforts to become the leader in the global green car market.”

The Ioniq will make it Korean debut in January, and will make the rounds at the New York Auto Show in March. 

Tags:  Hybrid, hyundai, ioniq