Hyundai Motor Co. announced on Thursday that it would now place electric vehicles front and center of its overall product strategy, one that has plans for a premium, long-range electric vehicle as it attempts to catch up to today’s leader Tesla and other automaker rivals.
Like with Toyota Motor Corp, Hyundai initially had championed its fuel cell technology as the eco-friendly vehicles’ future, but since then has shifted to electric as Tesla skyrocketed to prominence and cars that are battery-operated gained government support across China.
Toyota has also started to work on fast-charging, longer distance electric vehicles, said local media.
Hyundai, based in South Korea, has planned to launch in 2021 an electric sedan in its Genesis brand that will have a range of 310 miles or 500 kilometers per charge.
It will introduce as well an electric version of its smaller SUV Kona with a 390 km range during the first six months of 2018.
Lee Kwang-guk an Executive Vice President of Hyundai said the company was strengthening it car strategy related to eco-friendly vehicles centering on its electric vehicles. He called the technology both realistic and mainstream.
The carmaker and Kia Motors an affiliate, which together form the No. 5 largest automaker based on global sales, said as well that they were adding three electric vehicles to plans for cars that are eco-friendly, which makes the total 31 models before the start of 2020.
The shift to electric vehicles by Hyundai has been underscored by its plans to include two fuel-cell and eight battery powered vehicles, in contrast to its announcement in 2014 for 22 models, of which just two had been slated to be powered by batteries.
Hyundai confirmed as well a report that is was developing its first electric vehicle dedicated program, which will give the company the ability to produce different models with driving ranges that are longer.
In 2016, it launched its first pure electric mass market car the IONIQ, but the driving range per charge for the vehicle is far shorter that the offerings from both General Motors and Tesla.
Hyundai unveiled a close to production version of the new fuel cell SUV that has a driving range of over 580 km between each charge, in comparison with its current fuel cell Tucson SUV of 415 km.
The mid-size SUV will launch across Korea early in 2018 followed by European and U.S. markets.