Home » The Hyundai Casper Electric Is The Cheap Small EV The World Needs Right Now

The Hyundai Casper Electric Is The Cheap Small EV The World Needs Right Now

Hyundai Inster Casper Ev
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There are plenty of big, heavy, expensive EVs out there if that’s what you fancy. However, it’s likely that smaller, cheaper EVs are what will really drive greater market penetration. Hyundai’s new subcompact is betting on just that, and we got a sneak peek today.

The new model will be called the Inster in some markets, including Australia. However, in Korea, it will be branded as the Hyundai Casper Electric, as it is an evolution of the company’s petrol-powered Casper SUV. Where Inster is a clumsy name that doesn’t really roll off the tongue, Casper is instantly catchy. Sadly, it’s likely trademark concerns make it complicated for the Korean automaker to use the name globally.

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Despite its small size, Hyundai doesn’t expect you to give up practicality. It’s targeting a healthy 220-mile WLTP range for the Inster, which should be plenty for city trips and some beyond.

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I’m told the first thing they teach you at journalism school is to crank up the brightness on teaser shots. Only gives us a touch more detail in this case, but always worth checking.

Hyundai has only given us a limited look at the Inster so far. The full reveal is slated for the Busan International Mobility Show in Korea later this month. Regardless, it’s clear the car hews closely to Hyundai’s established modern design language. The pixelated rear tail lights and front amber lights set the tone, while the round running lights evoke fond memories of the Honda e.

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Pricing is yet to be announced, though early speculation has it landing around the €20,000- mark ($21,500 USD) in Europe. That would put it right in the mix with EVs like the Fiat 500e and similar product from Chinese automakers.

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Based on the look of the thing, Hyundai could probably get away with calling this thing a hatchback if so desired. However, it’s officially denoted as a subcompact SUV, despite its apparently middling ground clearance. Crossovers have crossed over so far that they’re pretty much just cars again.

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As an aside, Hyundai states that the “Casper” name is based on the freestyle skateboard trick developed in the 1970s by Bobby Boyden. However, the trick is named Casper after Boyden’s own nickname—he was likened to the cartoon character because of his pale complexion. Thus, Hyundai effectively did name the vehicle after the friendly ghost.

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Comparing the existing Korean-market Casper with the shadowy shots that Hyundai released today, it’s clear the company got the design right from the get go. It has pleasant lines with a touch of retro feel, a design ethos that Rivian in particular has made waves with of late.

If this thing lands with good range and the right price tag, it could be a banger. Hyundai is already selling over 40,000 Caspers a year in Korea. The electric version could be a hit when it debuts worldwide. Perhaps the only sad thing is that we must suspect it’s not coming to America. We’ve contacted Hyundai for comment, but the automaker’s American media channels have thus far made no mention of the gorgeous three-door.

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We’ve been saying it for years—the world needs more cheap, do-everything compact EVs. Now, it looks like Hyundai is about to deliver us a humdinger. Bring it on.

Image credits: Hyundai

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
17 hours ago

They could qualify for the tax credit if they make it in their Montgomery factory. They have a ton of white sheets.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
1 day ago

Of course Hyundai will ghost the American market with this one.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
21 hours ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

But they’ll claim they sell vehicles with the same spirit

D-dub
D-dub
1 day ago

Something that small needs to maximize its useable interior space. That rear rake is going to be the bane of everyone that owns one of these.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 day ago

I’ve been requesting a deep dive on the differences between WLTP and the EPA cycle for a while now. Putting it out there again.

Lally Singh
Lally Singh
1 day ago

$16k for a car that costs $5-6 (using NJ off-peak 11c/kwh) to recharge at home is pretty damned nice. Compared to how expensive everything else in life has become, this would be awesome.

Or if you’re well off, this is a great teenager’s first car. It just needs a way to inhibit long runs of acceleration. But a little punch on the low end will keep the kids happy.

Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
1 day ago
Reply to  Lally Singh

Or a great senior’s last car that eventually gets handed down to the teenager (or the family member who needs wheels). I feel like this is an underserved – but inevitable – audience for these entry-level cars. Should really be marketed – and equipped – as exit-level cars.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 day ago

You can tell that everyone in the door and exterior lighting design teams received participation trophies.

Last edited 1 day ago by Urban Runabout
Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
1 day ago

Kinda of looks like a Lada Niva but with 4 doors and a bit more round and lower.

Tagarito
Tagarito
1 day ago

Strange that it looks like a pug eyed pup in the teaser photos, but not in the well lit ICE photo. Sure dig a pug eyed mini EV

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
1 day ago

Could be interesting if it came with the tax credit. Maybe there would be good lease deals. EPA range is probably closer to 165-170 applying WLTP’s ~22% overestimate. Real world range will be slightly lower and cold winter/hot summer range lower still. I wouldn’t be surprised to see people getting 150 or so.

That would get it done for lots of people commute-wise, but definitely needs to be below 20k all in since it won’t work as someone’s only car in the US.

V10omous
V10omous
1 day ago
Reply to  PresterJohn

No EVs, even the cheap ones, with that kind of range have ever been real sellers here. Hell, the 150 mile Leaf is available now for ~$24K after credit.

I’m continually mystified by the authors and the people in the comments who assume things like this would be a success here. Even if someone could rationally use this as commuter, the typical car buyer doesn’t want small, doesn’t want cheap, and doesn’t want low range and the associated anxiety. Europe is poor, small, and full of dense cities. They *need* cars like this. America is large, rich, and sprawling. We are better served by other things.

Amschroeder5
Amschroeder5
1 day ago
Reply to  V10omous

To some extent it becomes what type of marketing and backend is done. The Leaf was never a ‘good ev’, it had catastrophic cooling issues at least until it was being hamstrung by the awful dead CHAdeMO port, and never competitive in anything.

Miata’s are not real sellers either, but that doesn’t mean we want them out of the market as options. (Every full year the leaf has existed, it has outsold the MX-5, most years by 50-100%).

V10omous
V10omous
1 day ago
Reply to  Amschroeder5

I think there is a big difference between continuing to build a slow-seller that has a long history, a dedicated fan base and is in some sense your halo car (despite being cheap) vs introducing a brand new slow-seller.

I don’t think Mazda would introduce the Miata as a new vehicle today, and obviously no one else is trying to build one.

Ben
Ben
1 day ago
Reply to  Amschroeder5

Miatas are halo cars though. They sell other Mazdas by association because they give Mazda real sporty car cred. Is anyone looking at a Leaf and thinking “That’s so cool, I should look at other Nissans”?

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
1 day ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yes I basically agree. Something like this would have to be *very* cheap (think Jason and Bishop’s 16k car from yesterday) and have other interesting attributes to get people to overlook the serious flaws it will inevitably have.

Jeffrey Antman
Jeffrey Antman
1 day ago
Reply to  V10omous

I don’t believe range is an issue when 40 miles /day is all many drive. People with garages and electricity.

V10omous
V10omous
1 day ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Antman

If that were true, people would buy/would have bought the cheap, short range cars on offer.

Amschroeder5
Amschroeder5
23 hours ago
Reply to  V10omous

Other than the leaf and sortof bolt, they haven’t been traditionally cheap. And the leaf suffered truly arguably the worst thermal mismanagement of modern evs (but still hasn’t been a “bad seller” overall), and the bolt had quite literally the cheapest least comfortable interior in the entire market, even when it cost quite a bit more msrp than competition.

Most of the US never even saw the plethora of intentionally small volume compliance cars like the egolf, and the i3 was/is very expensive for the use case.

Jj
Jj
13 hours ago
Reply to  PresterJohn

This is a no-go here. The people who could use it usually don’t have access to charging at home.

Anyone suburban enough to have a garage (and home charging) will need more range.

WaCkO
WaCkO
1 day ago

I don’t think it would sell well in USA, it looks like it could be the Quebec special of electric cars.

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
1 day ago
Reply to  WaCkO

I agree as much as I think people in the cities or that work in the cities would benefit from small cars like this. Small cars just not sold well here in the US for a long time and seeing every manufactures lineup in the currently I don’t think that is going to change. Maybe I am wrong and the pendulum will swing the other way from the big cars we currently have but I am not holding my breath.

Jj
Jj
13 hours ago

People in cities do not have access to home charging, and public charging isn’t something to be relied on at this point.

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
13 hours ago
Reply to  Jj

True that. Think I was saying more so of the car being small so easier to park and get around in a city and less of it being electric. But yeah our cities are nowhere near built for EV’s yet or probably ever will be because I doubt the cities or rental property/garage owners are going to truly invest in the infrastructure for them.

Jj
Jj
11 hours ago

In a lot of older cities, it can be risky plugging in a window air conditioner. Old, old wiring. They’re highly unlikely to add EV charging facilities.

The housing doesn’t necessarily come with parking either. My friend in NYC had to street park his car like a 45 minute subway commute from his apartment. He wasn’t using the car daily, so it just sat almost all week or possibly two weeks until he needed it again.

Even if there were curbside chargers, there’s a large chance a jerk like this will be parked in front of it.

Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
1 day ago

It is a Suzuki Ignis

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 day ago

It looks like Casper, the angry ghost.

Chris D
Chris D
1 day ago

It will come with optional extra chrome letters, so some buyers could customize it to fit their personalities. For example, the garbage man could get a B and make it a Binster, a priest could drive a Minster, a practical joker would have a Grinster, a movie villian would drive a Sinster, the unmarried woman down the block would have a Spinster, and the version sold in Vietnam would be the Vinster.

Johnpmac
Johnpmac
1 day ago
Reply to  Chris D

Someone who can’t stop showing off their legs on the web – the instergam

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 day ago

At $21,500, this is interesting, but only 220 miles on the highly optimistic WLTP test is a big deficiency in the US market.

If they can qualify it for tax credits, it would make good sense. Otherwise, I don’t think enough would be willing to buy it unless you can get that sort of range with the heat on in the winter or the AC on in the summer.

There are plenty of people who could actually use this sort of thing. But without an EV incentive, small gassers are a far better value at about the same price, even if you consider the added costs of gas and maintenance.

When charging cables hang from every streetlight pole, we’ll see more like these. Until then, you need either EV incentives or a lot more range.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 day ago

Google “what is Casper slang for” and you’ll get a pretty good idea of why they’ll never call it that in the United States.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 day ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

My second guess was right—and I’m ok with that: I already refer to myself as a Cracker when talking about how the sun fries me

Bite Me
Bite Me
1 day ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

No one cares about that

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 day ago

Other than the unibrow, I like this.
A scrap of vinyl wrap and an interesting color would take care of that ugly unibrow. I’m thinking either orange or turquoise instead of that ugly black.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 day ago

If Hyundai sold this here, people would buy it instead of pricier and higher margined vehicles.

They should sell it here, regardless.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 day ago

I see a lot that could be cut – alloy wheels with 4 lug nuts? What’s wrong with stamped steel with 3 nuts? 2 outside mirrors? Why does the passenger need to see behind them? Roof rails? Someone wants to install a roof rack, they can pay the dealer to put those on after. It probably even has air conditioning and a radio. What is this supposed to be? An EV for the Rockefellers?

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 day ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Good point though on the roof rails, as they would increase drag (and add cost.)

Could they have gone, stead, the route of old Subarus with the base latches for a rack built into the roof so those who want one can add one without clamping on the door frame? All the while can do their mileage tests sans rack.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 day ago

Of course it’s not coming to America, anything good and small seldom does anymore.

Casper is a bit of an odd moniker, but I like Hyundai’s explanation. Inster? Sounds like a belly button. Come to think of it, belly button would be good name for this. Still beats the Japanese who would’ve called this car something like Happy Boy Go Go Cherry Rocket Pop.

The Dude
The Dude
1 day ago

I can get behind the idea of calling wagons and hatches SUVs if that’s what it takes to sell them.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 day ago

I don’t understand why Casper would be a copyright or trademark problem. There’s a cartoon character with that name, a mattress, a situational judgment test, and a city in Wyoming. Which one is going to be confused with a car?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 day ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Good point. Target demo is more likely to associate a name that evokes Instagram than a 1940s cartoon.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 day ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Or its regrettable 1990s theatrical remake

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
17 hours ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Or the even more regrettable 1990s actor Casper van Dien.

The Dude
The Dude
1 day ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Risk adverse legal teams.

I was working on a video game feature involving King Midas and had a text reference to “the Midas touch.” Despite having no relation to cars whatsoever, the legal team made me change it because of the Midas repair shops using their “trust the Midas touch” slogan.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 day ago
Reply to  The Dude

Didn’t Midas kill his daughter by touching her, then die of starvation because of no food?

Always thought that was a dumb slogan.

George CoStanza
George CoStanza
1 day ago

Another CUV- boring…at least they named it after a mattress.

Thank you; I’ll be here all week.

El Barto
El Barto
1 day ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

It’s def gonna give the Chinese EV manufacturers a run for their money and make peeps in our part of the world take notice. Since the NZ Govt removed the EV rebate scheme at the start of the year, EV sales have cratered, so I predict that this new Hyundai is gonna steal sales from the cheap BYDs and MGs if they’re competitively priced.

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