Is 2016 Too Late for Hyundai Electric Vehicle?
According to Reuters, "Hyundai is preparing to launch an EV in 2016," Senior Vice President Lee Ki-sang told reporters at the Korean launch of a battery-powered version of affiliate Kia Motors Corp's Soul compact.
Scheduled to go on sale in the third quarter of 2014, the Soul EV will be Kia’s first all-electric, zero-emissions car sold in the U.S. Its 7kWh, air-cooled, 200 watt-hour/kg battery is expected to yield a range of approximately 80-100 miles of real-world driving on a full charge, with internal testing and evaluation results exceeding 100 miles in some instances, according to Kia.
As the Reuters article points out, the launch of the Hyundai EV comes well after most other brands have a battery-operated EV in the market (or will shortly). Does that put Hyundai too far behind to catch up? Will electric vehicles have reached a satiation point in two years?
The answer at this point would be a qualified maybe. Pike Research, via an article in plugincars.com, says "the annual market in 2016 will be 289,000 [electric vehicles], and will reach 303,000 by 2017 … (to) represent a mere 0.8% of the U.S. market, while plug-in hybrids will account for 1.2%. (At that point, gas-powered hybrids will make up 3.1%, according to Pike.)"
What could help sales is Hyundai's launch this year of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle. Granted that's only going to be in small numbers (probably less than a thousand) and only in California but that's going to give Hyundai strong credibility in the green community.
Two years of success with that vehicle could place Hyundai in an important place come 2016 and give the Korean automaker the perception of being a green company.