Motoring giant Hyundai shifts focus to electric vehicles
Motoring giant Hyundai shifts focus to electric vehicles

Motoring giant Hyundai shifts focus to electric vehicles

South Korean motoring giant Hyundai announced on Thursday that it will put electric vehicles at the forefront of its new product strategy.

The company has plans to develop and launch a premium long-distance electric car in a bid to help it catch up with the likes of Tesla and other main rivals.

This comes as the electric car market is gaining momentum. According to research, there were 107,000 electric car registrations in the UK by the end of July 2017, compared to just 3,500 in 2013.

A big shift

Hyundai is one of many companies shifting from classic fuel cell cars to eco-friendly models. Toyota, according to reports, has also begun working on fast-charging, long-distance vehicles.

At a news conference, executive vice president Lee Kwang-guk revealed that Hyundai is going to launch an electric sedan in 2021. It will sit under its high-end Genesis brand and sport a range of 500 km (310 miles) per charge.

As well as this, the firm is also working on an electric variant of the Kona sport utility vehicle. Set to enter the market next year, it will boast a range of 390 km.

Eco is the way forward

Kwang-guk believes that eco-friendly cars are the way forward and that they can become mainstream. “We’re strengthening our eco-friendly car strategy, centering on electric vehicles,” he said.

The car maker will work closely with affiliate Kia Motors too. Both ranking highly in worldwide vehicle sales, they have plans for 31 eco-friendly models by 2020.

Of this number, three will be plug-in models; eight will be battery-powered; and two will be full-cell vehicles. This is a big improvement compared to its 2014 commitment for 22 models.

Not too late

Although the company is only changing its direction now, that’s not to say it hasn’t had dealings with electric vehicles in the past.

Last year, it launched a mass-mark electric car called IONIQ, but it had a shorter driving range compared to models from Tesla and General Motors. And it’s confirmed a report from Reuters that it’s currently working on its own electric vehicle platform. This will allow it to produce a plethora of long-driving electric vehicles.

In another move to help consolidate its place in this lucrative market, Hyundai has said it wants to open a dedicated facility for pure electric vehicles. Here, it’ll be able to produce a variety of eco-friendly, long-driving models.

Read more: Electric car start-up NIO announces plans for first self-driving model

Infrastructure improvements needed

Chris Evans, deputy managing director of energy specialists Rolton Group, commended car makers on their efforts to make electric vehicles mainstream but believes more needs to be done to improve the ageing National Grid.

“Automotive manufacturers are making great strides in terms of technology, hurtling confidently towards the future and spending billions on the transition to electric vehicles as the public’s primary mode of transport,” he told Internet of Business.

“However, despite the positive outcome on pollution and carbon fuel usage, this is totally out of step with the capabilities of our aging National Grid. We can’t keep expecting our aging energy infrastructure to continue making provision for such heightened energy demands without investment.

“The fundamental issues born of historic methods of UK fuel consumption still aren’t being dealt with. The basic infrastructure requirements to cater for greatly increased energy demands has, to date been largely ignored by government policy. In fact, these half-formed sustainability measures can be likened to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Read more: Powervault to give electric car batteries a second life in smart homes

These issues and more will all be up for discussion at the Internet of Business Battery and Energy Storage event at The Slate on Warwick University Campus, UK in November.