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Hyundai electric cars in Australia: Everything you need to know

Hyundai began researching and developing alternatives to ICE vehicles as far back as the early ’90s.

A lot of news involving the automotive industry these days is largely focused on electric vehicles (EVs), which may seem like they’ve recently arrived on the scene with the goal of turning internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles into dinosaurs. Mind you, it will be a lot slower process than a meteorite impact.

What many people aren’t aware of, however, is that most major car manufacturers have been developing EVs for decades, well before Tesla came along to dominate headlines with its battery-powered tech fantasies.

Hyundai began researching and developing alternatives to ICE vehicles as far back as the early ’90s, with its first EV, the Sonata Electric Vehicle, emerging in 1991, and its first hybrid, the FGV-1, unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show in 1995.

In 2008, Hyundai began mass-producing hybrids for the consumer market using what it calls “BlueDrive” technology, which includes using lithium-polymer batteries (the current industry norm are lithium-ion batteries, with both types coming with their own set of pros and cons). 

Demonstrating how serious it is about developing cars using alternate power sources, Hyundai spent a whopping $45.6 billion developing the full electric Hyundai BlueOn in 2009, the model coming with a 16.4 kWh lithium polymer battery pack and the ability to charge to 80 per cent after just 25 minutes. 

In 2016 Hyundai took on Toyota’s top-selling hybrid, the Prius, with its Ioniq - the first ever car to come in hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and all-electric variants, and no ICE vehicle option whatsoever. 

Ioniq is now a standalone brand that will utilise the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), a dedicated EV platform consisting of a battery pack under the cabin and an all-in-one motor, transmission, and inverter that will be used on all Hyundai EV models moving forward. 

Hyundai hydrogen vehicles 

Hyundai has furthered its commitment to developing cars with a low environmental impact by developing certain models powered by hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. 

First came the Nexo crossover SUV in 2018, and then the Xcient Fuel Cell in 2020, the world's first production hydrogen fuel cell truck, which is currently only available in Sweden. The same year they also launched the Elec City FCEV, a hydrogen-powered bus with a driving range of 434 kilometres. 

The Nexo is available in Australia on special order for lease, despite a dearth of hydrogen fuelling stations - there is only one filling station in Sydney, at Hyundai HQ, but a fleet of them have been leased in the ACT for evaluation purposes and there is a hydrogen station in Canberra for that purpose.

Hyundai electric vehicles available in Australia

Kona Electric 

Prices starting from: $62,000 (Elite), $65,290 (Highlander)

This Hyundai electric car is a compact SUV that’s small in size but big when it comes to driving range - 484km on a full charge, which is impressive given the car’s diminutive stature. For a few thousand extra, the Highlander version throws in things like a head-up display, glass sunroof and heated seats. 

Ioniq Electric 

Prices starting from: $48,970 (Electric Elite), $53,010 (Electric Premium)

This mid-size, five-seat, five-door hatch is more expensive than its nearest rivals, the Nissan Leaf and the MG ZS EV, but it does offer comparatively better driving range (311km, compared to the base model Leaf’s 270km and the ZS EV’s 263km), and better energy consumption. 

Ioniq Hybrid

Prices starting from: $35,690 (Hybrid Elite), $40,390 (Hybrid Premium)

Offering 3.9L of fuel consumption for every 100km, the Ioniq Hybrid features a self-charging battery that powers an electric motor with a total power output of 104kW. The Premium option adds leather-appointed seats, heated front seats and steering wheel and a front park assist system

Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

Prices starting from: $42,410 (Plug-In Hybrid Elite), $46,950 (Plug-In Hybrid Premium)

As opposed to the self-charging Ioniq Hybrid, the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid must be connected to an external power source in order for it to be able to charge. The benefit? You’ll be able to drive in all-electric mode for further and longer, cutting down on environmentally harmful tailpipe emissions in the process. 

The future 

The Ioniq 5 mid-size SUV, the next offering from the Ioniq sub-brand, will be arriving in Australia in the third-quarter of 2021, and it promises to be a bold step forward for Hyundai in terms of design and function. 

Boasting a redesigned “smart living space” interior, the Ioniq 5 also comes with a striking, futuristic exterior that features pop-out door handles and Parametric Pixel headlights.

Also coming soon are the Ioniq 6, an electric sedan, and the Ioniq 7, a large electric SUV

A recent report also suggests that Hyundai will be slashing the number of its ICE models in half in order to free up money to invest in EVs, a strong indicator that, for Hyundai, the future is most certainly electric, with plans for the brand to offer strictly all-electric models by 2040. 

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