Seeking to catch up with Tesla and others, Hyundai leaps into the electric car industry.
In an interview with Reuters, an executive from Hyundai has revealed that the Korean car manufacturer is planning to create a new platform for electric vehicles. While the platform is not expected to be completed in the immediate future, the company will be dipping their toes in the water quite soon. Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp are planning to roll out small, electric sports utility vehicles (SUVs) based on existing designs as early as next year, according to Hyundai-Kia’s green car operations leader Lee Ki-sang.
The new platform is noteworthy in Hyundai’s case, since they have long resisted the switch to battery-powered electric cars in favor of fuel-cell technology. The rise of electric vehicles, and increased pressure from investors might be a reason for this. The industry in general is desperate to adapt new environmentally friendly solutions as emission regulations in Europe, United States and China force manufacturers to turn away from fossil fuels, despite undercut oil prices. “The electric-vehicle platform will require high up-front investments but we are doing this to prepare for the future,” said Lee.
Hyundai, like so many others, are following in Tesla’s footsteps by offering battery packs to be installed in the floor of their new cars to increase capacity and maximize floor space. There’s been no mention of cost yet, but the company has hinted that it will release a new luxury electric vehicle under its Genesis label in 2021. “The separate platform may incur losses initially, but Hyundai will be left behind the market if they don’t offer long-distance models, like 300 km, 500 km and 600 km,” said Ko Tae-bong, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.
Lee says electric vehicles will likely account for some 10% of the global automotive sales in 2025, as opposed to around 1% today, and believes China will be leading the charge. Fuel cell technology, by comparison, which was also being worked on by Kia before the announcement, wouldn’t really be able to take off before at least 2025.