Hyundai electrified cars in Nashville

The Ionic 5 drives Hyundai’s electric charging

  • As good as the Hyundai Kona EV – one of the first affordable battery electric vehicles in the US with at least 200 miles of range – the Ioniq 5 is even better.
  • On US demand for the Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s marketing team has a message for South Korean heads of companies: “We need more.”
  • Hyundai plans to have at least 11 electric battery models on the road by 2030, which would account for at least 1.8 million vehicles a year.

    It’s all about the electrification of the world’s automakers, and Hyundai has as much to boast of as any of them. The South Korean automaker recently hosted a press event in Nashville that was short on actual product news, but instead the point was to highlight its four vehicles that move the brand forward on the road to an emissions-free future.

    We had time sitting in two new hybrids (the crossover Santa Fe and Tucson) and two battery electrics (Ionic 5 and Kona EV) – all fun to drive.

    Hyundai has shared some of its market research, which helps us understand the business case and interest in electrified vehicles. Sure, hybrids have been around for over 20 years, initially selling in small numbers, but they’ve found new life as automakers push hard for all things electric. Currently, plug-in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles account for about 12% of US car sales, and the share is growing.

    Interest in electric cars — as well as sales — is at an all-time high, with Hyundai indicating that a third of shoppers are likely to choose something electrified for their next car.

    Hyundai electrified cars in Nashville

    Hints of the Tesla Cybertruck in the rear quarter of the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

    Tom Murphy

    To investigate further, Hyundai cites Maritz data that says 41% of shoppers will probably or definitely choose the next hybrid, while 37% will likely or definitely choose a battery electric. Lagging behind in the group is plug-in hybrids, with only 29% of shoppers leaning in that direction, possibly because the battery and electric range are so low overall.

    Interest in electric cars — as well as sales — is at an all-time high, with Hyundai indicating that a third of shoppers are likely to choose something electrified for their next car.

    Hyundai plans to have at least 11 electric battery models on the road by 2030, which would account for at least 1.8 million vehicles a year. Also by 2030, the Hyundai Group (including the Kia and Genesis brands) is targeting a 12% market share for all electric vehicles sold globally.

    Other automakers have stated similar goals, and the next 10 years will reveal which manufacturers have the patience, determination and deepest pockets to reign. Globally, Hyundai Motor says it will invest $16.2 billion in electricity, including $5.5 billion for a new electric vehicle and battery plant in Bryan County, Georgia.

    Hyundai Ioniq 5

    Hyundai will also spend heavily on robotics, autonomous driving, air mobility (eVTOLs), and artificial intelligence, but for now let’s focus on the company’s bread-and-butter vehicles. So, what’s it like to drive Hyundai’s latest four-electric intake?

    While the Kona EV is good — one of the first affordable battery electrics in the US with a range of at least 200 miles, launched in 2019 — the Ioniq 5 is even better. Unlike the dominant form of the Kona, the Ioniq 5 is designed to make a statement. With its pixelated taillights, futuristic wheels, steep tailgate, and rectangular daytime running lights, the Ioniq 5 offers the look of a concept car and a sharp hint of a Cybertruck Tesla (especially in the rear quarter panels).

    This five-passenger compact crossover also treads new ground in the cabin with deliberately straight lines throughout: from the door trim and dashboard to the massive head-up display that houses a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch multimedia display, side-by-side under Flat glass, illuminated in soft soothing white and gray hues.

    Hyundai electrified cars in Nashville

    Hyundai Ioniq 5 interior.

    Tom Murphy

    Familiarizing the interior of the Ioniq 5 is a straight row of solid buttons below the screen for accessing the map, navigation system, media and favourites, but the most confusing element may be the steering wheel, which has no Hyundai badges — just four small buttons squared in a row. Straight, like the pixels on the back of a car. The PRND transmission is neatly positioned (some would say hidden) on a stem mounted on the right side of the steering column.

    The 2022 Ioniq 5 Limited AWD we tested in Nashville comes with a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that provides an estimated range of 256 miles from the twin engines (range extends to 303 miles with the single-motor version). Pushing rivals like the VW ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2 and Chevy Bolt, the Ioniq 5 is more than competitive, accelerating effortlessly via a single-speed downshift with a total of 320 horsepower from the two engines.

    Hyundai electrified cars in Nashville

    Gearshift lever in Hyundai Ioniq 5.

    Tom Murphy

    A capacity like this isn’t cheap: Our loaded test model is flat for $56,920. That’s a big step up from the $44,340 Kona Electric Limited that we drove with 201 horsepower from a single engine and 258 miles of range.

    From an efficiency standpoint, the Kona EV (which has been improved this year) was better, traveling 4.6 miles per kilowatt-hour while we drove, compared to 3.4 miles per kilowatt-hour on the Ioniq 5. It should be noted that eight journalists travel through each vehicle all the time. Today, so multiple driving styles have affected those numbers. My driving partner and I were the last group of the day on the Ioniq 5, and we headed back to the hotel with 86 miles of range remaining – having covered 150 miles total over the course of the day. There was no charge during the lunch break.

    The Ioniq 5 and Kona EV have been well received in the US market, and the Ioniq 5 is off to a great start, with 6,244 delivered in the first quarter of this year.

    Hyundai Kona Eve

    For context, the Ioniq 5 outperforms several similarly sized combustion engine models, including Buick Envision, Cadillac XT4 and XT5, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50 and Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, according to Wards Intelligence data. Of the battery-powered cars, only Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla’s Models 3, S and Y outperformed the Ioniq 5 in the first quarter. Kia’s Ioniq 5’s Platform EV6 is off to a good start too, with 5281 Q1 delivered.

    Ioniq 5 sales pick up where Kona EV left off: First-quarter sales in the US were just 1,050 units, but Hyundai sold nearly 9,000 Kona EVs in 2021 and a total of 16,610 since its launch in 2019.

    hyundai santa fe phev 68 mpg

    We noticed 68.7 mpg in the Santa Fe PHEV.

    Tom Murphy

    The vast majority of Hyundai sales remain gasoline-powered, and hybrid versions of the smaller Santa Fe and Tucson reach dealerships now. With a fully charged battery, the Santa Fe PHEV can run in all-electric mode for 31 miles and Tucson 33 miles.

    Shifts between the combustion and electric modes were smooth — barely perceptible — during our test drive of the Santa Fe, our first vehicle of the day, and we noticed a whopping 68.7 mpg speed. By the time we drove the Tucson PHEV, its all-electric range was exhausted, so fuel economy was less impressive.

    Comparing these two driving experiences illustrates the problem with plug-in hybrids: Anyone who has long daily commutes or does a lot of highway driving will likely not see the benefit of a PHEV. But for short drives around town — especially if you’re willing to plug in every night, even with a standard 120-volt wall socket — a plug-in hybrid will barely burn gasoline.

    By pricing, both our 2022 Tucson and Santa Fe PHEVs were well-equipped Limited AWD models, coming in at $44,640 and $47,450, respectively. For me, the highlight of these two PHEVs was the 1.6-liter four-cylinder with a turbocharged six-speed.

    Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe Vis

    Plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe.


    It’s the same powertrain on both cars, and it’s surprising how such a small engine provides so much movement in both popular five-passenger crossovers, particularly the larger Santa Fe. This engine is ready to jump on the throttle, without seeming nervous in the process.

    If you’re shopping for something electrified, take a look at plug-in hybrids, as well as the Kona EV. You may really like the Ioniq 5, but the global demand for it is very high, which means there is a long waiting list. On US demand for the Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s marketing team has a message for South Korean heads of companies: “We need more.”

    How do you think Hyundai is stacking the market with its current electrified vehicles and plans for the future? Please share your thoughts below.

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