Hyundai has begun the US roll-out of its Ioniq line-up of electrified vehicles: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric. (Earlier post.) The Ioniq Hybrid offers up to the highest fuel economy in the US (up to 58 mpg / 4.05 l/100 km) for a non-plug-in vehicle and the Ioniq Electric is the industry’s most efficient EV (136 mpge / 25 kWh/100 miles).
In addition to efficiency and value, a key design goal for the Hyundai team was driveability: specifically, a fun-to-drive, “segment-appropriate” driving experience. During the media launch last week in Santa Barbara, California, Hyundai provided production versions of the hybrid and battery-electric vehicle, and a pre-production version of the plug-in hybrid. Based on relatively short drives in all three variants, we conclude that Hyundai nailed its goals. In addition to the fuel efficiency of the powertrains (described in this earlier post), the Ioniqs are quiet, comfortable, and appropriately dynamic—although not high-performance, all models are a pleasure to drive.
Overall, Hyundai tuned ride and handling—as well as noise, vibration and harshness levels—towards superior ride quality, while insulation in the instrument panel minimizes engine compartment noise intrusion. In driving the PHEV variant, for example, there was little change in the cabin noise level (~60-65 dB as measured on an iPhone) when switching from all-electric operation at 60 mph to hybrid operation (when the engine kicked in).
Damping in the floor panels, as well as enhanced A- and B- pillar insulation, thicker window glass and noise-cancelling film on the windshield, further improve the quiet and comfortable driving experience.
Of particular note is the smooth integration of the engine with the motor in the new 6-speed DCT in the hybrids. The new 6DCT has a measurably higher power transmission than the automatic transmissions used in past systems. Gear shifting is much quicker, with increased system efficiency and regeneration energy capture, mainly because the system is in gear more often than the traditional automatic
The engine can be synched with motor speed through a combination of torque demand from the hybrid starter generator as well as engine rpm control (unless the engine has started switching from HEV to EV mode and decoupling and shutting down).
Hyundai has improved the synching strategy for engine startup while transitioning from EV to HEV. Previous systems saw an engine rpm overshoot while attempting to synch engine and motor speeds, which can result in some additional clutch slippage.
For the Ioniq system, Hyundai minimized rpm overshoot by improving upon past software strategies, moving from a map-based strategy to self-adaptive synch logic. As an example, it rpm overshoot is detected, the software notes this and adapts for the next event. This helps to shorten the synch timing as well as dampen engine startup shock.
As a result, mode transitions are quiet, quick and smooth; definitely one of the highlights of the hybrid powertrain from a driver’s perspective.
Suspension. Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid feature a multi-link rear suspension system with dual lower control arms for agile ride and handling coupled with excellent ride quality. In addition, extensive use of aluminum in front and rear suspension components saves around 22 lbs (9.98 kg) of weight compared with conventional materials.
We offer a unique fully independent rear suspension to give driving dynamics that are on par with a conventional gasoline car. People are worried that eco-vehicles aren’t much fun to drive, so we tried to attack that with more sophisticated suspension and much better driving dynamics.—Mike O’Brien, Hyundai vice president of corporate and product planning
A reduction of 5 lbs (2.27 kg) per front lower arm unit saves 13 lbs (5.9 kg) at the front suspension, while nearly 9 lbs (4.08 kg) is reduced at the rear suspension. In addition, the placement of the battery systems below the rear seats provides a lower center of gravity for more responsive handling.
The hybrid variant—with its smaller battery pack—in particular feels light and grips the road well. However, even with a much larger battery pack (8.9 kWh vs 1.58 kWh), the plug-in hybrid variant handles firmly around corners, avoiding any back-end sway from the additional weight of the battery pack.
The Ioniq Electric applies a torsion-beam rear axle, providing more space for the 28 kWh lithium-ion polymer batteries, placed below the rear seats.
Ioniq’s responsiveness and feedback from the steering system is clear and precise, with a quick steering ratio for an engaging and responsive feel. Braking force is optimized for maximum efficiency from the regenerative braking system—Hyundai’s third generation of the system—helping Ioniq to maintain a steady state of charge (SOC).
Regenerative braking also operates with reduced noise, using the third-generation recuperating stopping system. Regenerative braking force can be adjusted to four levels (0 (none) → 3 (high)) to meet the driver’s preference and driving conditions through steering-column-mounted regenerative brake-level control paddles.
The left paddle increases regenerative braking levels for more energy capture; the right paddle decreases regenerative braking levels for more natural coast down.
At the highest level the system provides an experience close to—but not quite—one pedal mode as experienced, say, in the Chevrolet Bolt.
An Integrated Brake Assist Unit (iBAU) and Pressure Source Unit (PSU) also contribute to quieter operation. This helps ensure ultra-low friction for maximum energy recuperation and efficiency levels.
Michelin tires also contribute to Ioniq’s enhanced levels of efficiency, as the car is fitted with low-rolling-resistance tires for 15-, 16- and 17-inch wheels, plus the car’s larger 17-inch wheels (Ioniq Hybrid Limited) are fitted with high-silica tires for better all-around performance. The multi-link suspension system of Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid has been adapted to work most efficiently with low-rolling-resistance tires while minimizing typical tire performance trade-offs.
Hybrid sport mode. The Ioniq hybrid offers a sport mode option under which the gasoline engine operates at all times, with the electric motor providing additional traction power for enhanced performance. Sport mode also provides a dynamic shift pattern for an increased sense of direction connection, with delayed gear shifts. Manual mode is available as well. Sport mode also features increased steering effort.
Within Sport mode, the display changes into a revolving digital speedometer that is surrounded by an analog-type tachometer, showing engine rpm in red. When choosing ECO mode, the TFT-information cluster simulates the classic speedometer needle.
We preferred sport mode when (a) driving for fund on windings roads and (b) overtaking on two-lane roads. Both HEV and PHEV performed well, with the HEV being a bit more sprightly due to the weight reduction, even with a less powerful motor.
Electric drive modes. The Ioniq electric offers three drive modes: normal, Eco for maximum energy saving and Sport for dynamic driving. Drivers select the mode via a button on the central console shifter.
Hyundai allows customization of the modes through the EV menu. Drivers can set their own climate control, coast regen torque levels and max speed limits for each of the three modes, as well as setting charging time for rate optimization.
Features. Ioniq offers advanced connectivity features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Blue Link, as well as Qi wireless charging for smartphones. (Qi is an open interface standard for inductive charging over distances of up to 4 cm (1.6 inches) developed by the Wireless Power Consortium.)
Ioniq is equipped with a high-definition 7-inch TFT information cluster. With a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, it displays all gauge functions (speedometer, drive mode, fuel level). Depending on the selected drive mode, background color and gauges are adapted to always provide the most important and useful information.
Ioniq also offers advanced safety, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, for high levels of both active and passive vehicle safety.
With sensor-fusion technology that utilizes the front radar and camera sensors, AEB operates in three stages. Initially warning the driver visually and acoustically, it controls the brake according to the collision danger stage, applying maximum braking immediately before an imminent collision. When a vehicle or pedestrian is sensed in front of the car, the system is activated, operating at speeds of more than 5 mph, and minimizes damage when a collision is otherwise unavoidable.
|The nav system in the plug-in electric offers an electric-range function showing how far one may go with no tailpipe emissions. Click to enlarge.|
Eco-focused materials. A key characteristic of the Ioniq is its use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive materials. The interior door covers are made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone while providing the same quality appearance of typical plastic-based materials. The softer, more natural feel is achieved along with less reliance on oil-based products. This approach extends to other areas of the car as well.
Raw materials extracted from sugar cane are partly applied on the headliner and carpet. Paint with renewable ingredients extracted from soybean oil is used to achieve lustrous metallic colors on key components.
|2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Pricing|
|Blue||1.6L GDI||6-Speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission||FWD||$22,200|
|SEL||1.6L GDI||6-Speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission||FWD||$23,950|
|Limited||1.6L GDI||6-Speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission||FWD||$27,500|
Freight Charges for the 2017MY Ioniq Hybrid are $835.
|2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Pricing|
|Electric||88kW Electric Motor||Single-speed Reduction Gear||FWD||$29,500|
|Limited||88kW Electric Motor||Single-speed Reduction Gear||FWD||$32,500|
Freight Charges for the 2017MY Ioniq Electric are $835.
Observations. Hyundai positions itself as a value provider, and definitely meets this goal with the Ioniqs. The Ioniqs are priced well, content-rich, perform well—probably better than Hyundai’s “segmenet-appropriate” goal—and carry a lifetime hybrid/electric battery warranty. The range of pricing offers affordable entry points into quality electrified vehicles, with the buyer able to decide which powertrain and which price works best for him or her. All-in-all, all the Ioniqs represent a very attractive offerin—efficient, economical, comfortable and fun-to-drive.
That said, there are a few considerations, more related to design than execution. The rated 27-mile all-electric range of the plug-in hybrid, for example, while certainly currently squarely in the competitive range, still will see a number of cold starts from the engine during longer periods of operation.
Gasoline vehicle HC and NOx emissions are dominated by initial engine start; 65-80% of FTP HC/NOx emissions occur in first 40 seconds, with 90-98% in first 120 seconds.
PHEV engine cold starts can occur at any point during vehicle operation, and thus present a unique situation compared to conventional cars. Blended PHEVs can have initial engine start under high power conditions, as well as in transition from EV mode. An analysis of engine start data from PHEVs presented by Ryan Hart from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) during the SAE 2017 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium showed PHEVs have a higher fraction of cold engine starts than conventional, and a smaller fraction of hot engine starts.
The Ioniq PHEV is presumably no worse off in this situation than competitive PHEVs; Mike O’Brien, Hyundai vice president of corporate and product planning, noted that the company is working on methods to reduce cold start emissions from the plug-in.
Another consideration is the range of the battery-electric Ioniq. Ioniq is quite competitive with the electric driving range of a number of first-gen mainstream EVs, with 124 miles vs. 125 for the eGolf, 107 miles for the Focus EV, 112 miles for the LEAF. But Ioniq is co-incidentally emerging into the market on the heels of the introduction of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt offers almost twice the electric range (238 miles), albeit at a price premium of some $7,120.
With the Bolt you do get 114 more miles of range, but at what cost, is the question. If you look at Hyundai’s sedan models from Accent to Sonata—a two-class price jump—that price jump is less than $7,000. We hope customers are cognizant of that when shopping electric vehicles.— John Shon, Sr. Manager, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America
Hyundai’s current answer to the range issue is to look to fast charging. A AAA driving survey found that Americans spend ~70 minutes driving ~43 miles daily. 98% of US new vehicle buyers do not intend to drive more than 100 miles on a daily basis, while 90% intend to drive less than 60 miles daily. As a result, Hyundai suggests, ~90% of new vehicle buyers could operate the Ioniq Electric for two days on a full charge.
That does not, however, factor in range depletion due to temperature conditions or other unforeseen elements that add up to contribute to the overall sense of “range anxiety”.
To address that, Hyundai is looking to the proliferation of DC Fast Charging stations to facilitate traveling extended distances. Accordingly, the Ioniq Electric is equipped with the capability for 100 kW fast charging.
Hyundai is also working with ChargePoint to further enhance the Ioniq Electric ownership experience. ChargePoint has the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network with more than 32,000 locations at which to charge, including more than 400 Express DC fast-charging sites. ChargePoint locations are rapidly expanding, with an increasing focus on fast charging.
Ioniq owners will receive welcome kits, informing them with key information and benefits in the use of the ChargePoint charging network, and ChargePoint access cards that are easy to activate. In addition, owners will have the capability to conveniently locate ChargePoint chargers on their mobile devices using the MyHyundai/Blue Link app.
Too, because of its efficiency—25 kWh/100 miles for Ioniq vs. 28 kWh/100 miles for the Chevy Bolt and Volkswagen eGolf; and 30 kWh/100 miles for the LEAF), the operating costs for the Ioniq Electric are lower than its competition. (All consumption figures are the EPA combined rating for MY 2017 vehicles.)
Driving the Ioniq Electric vs. Bolt. Immediately following the drive of the Ioniq Electric, we hopped into a Chevrolet Bolt that the Hyundai team had brought for comparison. Leaving range issues aside, the Bolt performs more as an idealized EV than does the Ioniq. With its more powerful traction motor, Bolt is quicker off the line and its acceleration is better. On the regen side too, Bolt (which also uses paddles to control regen) is more aggressive, offering a very addictive full one-pedal mode (OPM—which GM engineers have taken to pronouncing “opium”). For our taste, the Bolt performance is more appealing.
However, we also found the Ioniq to be a more comfortable vehicle than the Bolt. We preferred the seating position as well as the comfort of the Ioniq seats.
The Ioniq Electric is longer, wider, and sits lower than the Bolt; it also offers more interior space—passenger and cargo—than its competition. (On the hybrid side too, Ioniq is more than 2-inches wider and 1-inch shorter than Prius with more dynamic proportions.)
Hyundai hopes to expand the market for electrified vehicles with the Ioniq family; the quality of the vehicles and the driving experience, along with attractive pricing, may allow it to achieve that goal.