Here’s some news you probably weren’t expecting to hear: Hyundai has confirmed that an electric pickup truck is in the works at its Investor Day on Tuesday. Imagine that, Hyundai being the latest manufacturer to announce an electric pickup truck. Oh, and that’s not all — the automaker has a new EV platform in the works, big plans for lithium iron phosphate batteries, and has reiterated its commitment to electric performance cars, all in addition to prior announcements like a massive U.S. EV manufacturing facility to overcome restructured tax incentives. Shall we peel back these latest announcements layer-by-layer?
Let’s start with the electric pickup truck. As it stands, information is thin, but we can certainly say that it’s happening. As it stands, the company hasn’t specified exactly what form an electric pickup truck could take, so expect anything from a second-generation Santa Cruz to a full-on Ford F-150 Lightning competitor. Hell, it could even be badged as a Kia, that’s how thin official info is right now. Whatever happens, another electric pickup truck sounds pretty sweet, so we’ll be keeping our eyes open.
Of course, a future electric pickup truck wasn’t the only electric product announced yesterday. Hyundai also told reporters that “the flagship models of the Genesis brand” will soon be electric, which tracks well with recent Genesis concept cars. Remember the striking X Speedium two-door fastback, the imposing X Convertible, and the handsome X Concept coupe? Those concept cars might not need to become vehicles as predictable as a new G90 sedan, because a new platform that Hyundai is developing should unlock massive economies of scale.
E-GMP Is Old News
Hyundai’s 800-volt E-GMP modular electric vehicle platform is one of the best in the business right now, but Hyundai’s almost ready to move on. The marque is prepping a new Integrated Modular Architecture that should underpin 13 new EVs by 2030 and bear first fruit well before that. So what makes this platform so different from what’s currently on sale? In short, it’s being designed to do everything. Hyundai claims that its Integrated Modular Architecture includes more than 80 common modules can all be used in any type of vehicle built on this platform, which sounds great for economy of scale.
While the current E-GMP platform is mostly limited to crossovers and one unusual sedan, IMA can allegedly go under just about anything, which opens up a load of possibilities. Could this be the way that the stunning N Vision 74 makes it to production? Only time will tell. Of course, just because a new platform is on its way doesn’t mean Hyundai’s done with E-GMP just yet.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Is Go
Here’s the update enthusiasts have been looking for: The Ioniq 5 N is still set to drop next month. While electric performance cars are quick in a straight line, most haven’t held up their end of the bargain when it comes to engagement. This isn’t uniquely an electric car problem (*cough* performance SUVs *cough*), but it’s something that disproportionally affects EVs because batteries are heavy. While it just isn’t possible to make even a well-tuned two-plus-ton vehicle handle like a well-tuned 3,000-pound sports sedan, it’s possible to hire engineers who are on their a-game to do the best with what’s available.
Hyundai’s current N cars are extremely engaging and communicative, so here’s hoping that translates to the sub-brand’s first electric model. Early signs are promising, especially looking at Car & Driver’s experience hooning a prototype on a frozen lake. The magazine claims this dual-motor rocket should offer “a net output of 600-ish horsepower” and that driver-selectable AWD torque bias, a proper limited-slip rear differential, and simulated gearshifts are all onboard. I can live without the fake shifts, but everything else seems neat.
Let There Be LFP
In much the same vein as every other leading EV maker, Hyundai is jumping aboard the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery train. While less power-dense than the nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries currently used in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, LFP cells promise greater temperature-hardiness and lower cost, potentially hurdling two major barriers to EV adoption.
Interestingly, Hyundai plans on launching lithium iron phosphate batteries primarily in emerging markets at first, which seems quite smart. Take the cheaper batteries and put them in cars sold where most EVs are unaffordable. Of course, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before LFP cell production ramps up to the point of U.S.-market viability, although Hyundai would need to manufacture those cells in North America and source battery materials from favorable countries to qualify for tax rebates.
In addition to LFP batteries, Hyundai is working on a power bank that will let its EVs charge their batteries while on the move. See, batteries can’t be charged and discharged simultaneously, and Hyundai thinks that this secondary power bank should aid total range. Time will tell.
Renewed American Focus
While Hyundai plans on waging electric vehicle war on all fronts, America is a key battleground for the Korean manufacturer, and a massive new plant in Georgia with an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles is critical to Hyundai’s U.S. EV effort. Hyundai’s EVs have what it calls a localization rate of just 0.7 percent in America right now, which has really hurt its brands due to missing out on EV tax incentives. Once the new plant in Georgia comes online in mid-2024, expect that figure to shoot way up to 75 percent.
In addition to localized EV production, Hyundai plans to fight the likes of Waymo and Cruise by bringing “an Ioniq 5-based driverless robotaxi business” to Las Vegas by the end of the year. Formed by Hyundai and mobility company Aptiv, the autonomous vehicle company Motional plans to partner with Uber for ride-sharing, which could get interesting.
All these plans are a lot to take in, and we can’t say how they’ll play out without the benefit of hindsight. However, the next six or seven years look very interesting for Hyundai, so consider it the automaker to watch. It’s progression from Excel to XG300 to 2011 Sonata to Ioniq 5 has been astounding, so a massive leap feels all but certain. Of course, I could be totally wrong, but let’s set a reminder for 2030 and look back on how everything went.
(Photo credits: Hyundai, Genesis)
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