Is Hyundai Quietly Becoming the Next Tesla With These EVs?

Hyundai has accelerated EV development dramatically the past few years. Backed by nearly 30 years of electric vehicle expertise and an ingenious new modular EV platform, the company seems poised to disrupt the segment. Flagship models like the critically acclaimed Ioniq 5 crossover and upcoming Ioniq 6 sedan even have Tesla looking over its shoulder.

But does that actually make Hyundai the next Tesla? Let‘s dig in.

A Veteran Player With EV Vision

While Tesla has made the biggest splash in recent EV memory, Hyundai has quietly built over 30 years of electric vehicle experience.

In fact, Hyundai was tinkering with compact EV concepts before the first Tesla Roadster even existed. Their initial electric foray dates back to 1991 with a battery-powered 4-door sedan. It wasn‘t a standout, managing just a 44 mile range on lead-acid batteries. But it kickstarted valuable learning and development.

Over the decade, Hyundai iterated EV prototypes dramatically improving range and performance:

YearModelRangeTop Speed
1991Electric Sedan Concept44 milesN/A
1995Electric Sedan Prototype124 miles75 mph
1999Electric Sedan Prototype242 miles87 mph

Ultimately the company pivoted to hybrids in the 2000s. But those early efforts forged knowledge of electrical systems, battery chemistry, motors, and integration that pay dividends today.

When Hyundai announced the formation of Ioniq as its dedicated EV brand in 2020, they leveraged decades of institutional learning to hit the ground running. The first model out the gate made waves.

Ioniq 5 – Striking Design Backed by Serious Tech

The retro-futuristic Ioniq 5 crossover set the new gold standard for affordable EVs with its 2022 launch.

  • Ultra-fast 800V charging enables 10-80% battery replenish in just 18 minutes
  • Clean, pixelated exterior houses sustainable eco-friendly materials
  • Awards include 2022 European Car of the Year and UK Car of the Year

But the real substance lies underneath, where Hyundai‘s advanced Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) unlocks game-changing performance, driving dynamics, packaging, and charging capabilities.

Range and Charging

E-GMP equips the Ioniq 5 with one of the longest driving ranges in its price bracket. The RWD model achieves 300+ miles from an 82 kWh battery pack. Even the heavier 324 hp AWD model lands north of 250 miles range.

Packaging innovations like a flat floor enabled by the skateboard platform layout maximize interior dimensions. The wheelbase stretches over 3 meters long, rivaling 3-row SUVs for passenger and cargo space.

But E-GMP‘s signature capability is ultra-rapid charging courtesy of its industry-first 800V electrical architecture. This unlocks 350 kWh chargers that can replenish batteries 10-80% in just 18 minutes. Even on more common 400V DC fast chargers, a 10-minute session adds 60+ miles of range.

The table below compares key specs around range and charging between Hyundai‘s offerings and current Tesla flagship models:

SpecificationsIoniq 5 RWDIoniq 5 AWDModel 3 RWDModel S RWD
Range (mi)303256358405
0-80% Charge Time18 min18 min15 min22 min
DC Fast Charge Rate220 mi/hr220 mi/hr275 mi/hr148 mi/hr

This charging speed advantage over current Tesla models demonstrates the technical capabilities unlocked by Hyundai‘s ultra-modern platform.

Performance and Driving Dynamics

In addition to efficiency, Hyundai emphasized driving enjoyment in E-GMP‘s design. Sophisticated features like near perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution and multi-link rear suspension handling strike a refined balance of sporty dynamics.

An advanced torque vectoring system leverages the instant responsiveness of the electric motors to actively shift power side to side for improved agility. Well-weighted steering provides confidence-inspiring feel behind the wheel as well.

Punchy performance figures fall closely in line with Tesla alternatives:

SpecificationsIoniq 5 RWDIoniq 5 AWDModel 3 RWDModel S RWD
Power225 hp320 hp283 hp405 hp
0-60 mph7.4 s5.2 s5.8 s3.9 s
Top Speed115 mph115 mph140 mph155 mph

The dual-motor AWD model in particular delivers sports car rivalling acceleration just 0.6 seconds shy of the fastest Model S currently available.

Ioniq 6 To Challenge Model 3 Dominance?

If the massively appealing Ioniq 5 is any preview, its forthcoming Ioniq 6 sedan sibling looks primed to shake up the affordable EV space even further.

Leveraging the same E-GMP underpinnings for effortless range, charging speed, and driving enjoyment, Ioniq 6 wraps it all in an impossibly sleek fastback shape. Early glimpses reveal a radical raked profile that almost reaches supercar territory.

Dimensionally, Ioniq 6 very closely matches the segment sales-leading Tesla Model 3. Deliberate benchmarking of Elon‘s hot seller seems likely. Rumors even point to a minimalist, buttonless cabin layout similar to the controversial Model 3 interior.

Of course, details remain under wraps pending the 2023 launch. But Hyundai left plenty tantalizing clues, stating Ioniq 6 will deliver "an extremely emotional design aligned with the company’s future EV design direction."

If early buzz holds true, they may have a legitimate Model 3 fighter on their hands.

E-GMP Platform Unlocks Game-Changing Potential

The breakthrough developments powering Hyundai‘s new EVs aren‘t just lucky strokes of genius. They are enabled by the remarkably innovative E-GMP platform architecture.

The flexible skateboard chassis efficiently packages flat battery units and compact drivetrain components between the axles. This creates expansive cabin room akin to much larger vehicles. The low center of gravity and sophisticated multi-link suspension translate to responsive handling limited only by the laws of physics.

And the modular design allows continuously updating those battery packs and motors for maximum range, performance, and driving dynamics down the line.

But E-GMP‘s pièce de résistance is its high-voltage electrical architecture. The industry-first 800V system (vs 400V standard) massively cuts charging times while minimizing cables and complexity. This vehicle-to-grid (V2G) ready platform delivers future-proofed bidirectional charging functionality as well.

In short, Hyundai developed a brilliantly future-looking hardware concept in E-GMP. And the beauty is just how extensively it can scale.

Flexible Scalability Across Classes

That last point is key. By designing for manufacturing flexibility from the outset, E-GMP enables an entire portfolio of vehicles with unique dimensional requirements to be spun off efficiently.

Hyundai can extend its technical advantages to everything from sport coupes to SUVs simply by modifying the platform length, battery capacity, motor tuning, and styling.

Nearly every major dimension of E-GMP can scale independently to minimize compromise:

  • Wheelbase adjustable from 2.6m to 3.1m
  • Battery capacity from 50 kWh to 100+ kWh
  • Motor output from 160 kW to 310 kW
  • Charging system up to 900+ V

This adaptability is Hyundai’s secret weapon for responding swiftly with diverse market offerings catering to nearly any customer preference in the coming EV era.

And it contrasts starkly with the one-off bespoke platforms most other automakers rely on that require vastly more upfront investment and slow model iteration velocity.

Platform Advantages Over Automakers New and Old

E-GMP hands Hyundai meaningful advantages even against dedicated EV startups.

Companies like Rivian and Lucid designed sophisticated standalone skateboard architectures expressly for EVs. But the fixed platforms still lock them into a relatively narrow set of vehicle sizes and categories. Most will require clean-sheet platforms moving forward to address new segments.

Then there are the traditional auto giants like Toyota and GM, who mainly repurposed internal combustion car chassis for initial electric options with suboptimal packaging, range, and propulsion compromises. Realizing those weren‘t sustainable, they‘ve invested billions into proprietary architectures like GM‘s BEV3 platform. But with both the legacy platform flexibility limitations and startup-level price tags.

Hyundai strikes an enviable middle ground with E-GMP. They avoided over-reliance on retrofitting outdated platforms to minimally meet regulations. Yet they sidestepped besoin massive upfront platform investment thanks to the modular flexibility. This pays sustainability dividends for numerous models long-term with modest incremental cost.

Can Hyundai Dethrone Tesla?

So the case is clear – Hyundai stands at the leading edge of EV development presently among mainstream automakers. With a smart platform enabling rapid rollout of ground-up electric models, range anxiety could soon be a thing of the past for new car buyers.

But does that translate into sales volumes that could actually allow them to catch the indomitable Tesla? Industry opinions vary widely.

Brand Perception & Accessibility

According to EV analyst Dan Howe from AutoFutures, long-standing brand familiarity and distribution still sway significant buyer segments:

"There‘s no denying Hyundai have stepped up huge on both technology and styling recently. But brand perception tends to lag reality, especially with middle American and boomer demographics who know Toyota or Chevy better. And mass reach via huge existing national dealer networks still influences purchasing patterns."

However, among younger coastal city dwellers and tech workers, Tesla cachet has eroded slightly according to surveys and may not protect them indefinitely.

As Howe explains:

"Tesla isn‘t the only game in town for a luxurious high-tech EV anymore. And with quality issues causing concern among previous evangelists, hardcore loyalty could waiver pending compelling alternatives."

Charging Infrastructure Access

Perhaps the biggest moat around Tesla currently remains its vast proprietary Supercharger fast-charging network enabling long distance travel. And Tesla has been aggressively expanding capacity in anticipation of fresh competition.

But much like cell phones, incompatible proprietary technology often loses out to interchangeable standards long-term. Europe is leading the shift where Tesla already opened Superchargers to other automakers in many countries per regulations.

But Elon Musk continues resisting similar moves in the US. It may prove short-sighted if public networks like Electrify America and EVGo accelerate buildouts to fill coverage gaps with their cross-compatible chargers.

As veteran tech analyst Amanda Rhodes points out:

"Tesla‘s charger lead shrank from 3 years back based on recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory data. And the convenience of charging network roaming among different brands provided by public infrastructure will only accelerate that trend."

Increased interchangeable station availability coupled with Hyundai‘s ultra-fast charging could considerably close the infrastructure advantage Tesla relies on before long.

Key Takeaways – Rising Tide Lifts All EVs

In totality, Tesla maintaining dominance for several more years remains the likeliest scenario. Too many factors still lean heavily in the Silicon Valley darling‘s favor. But Hyundai‘s dramatic progress transports EV consumer choice into a whole new era. By setting blistering benchmarks for pricing, charging speed, real-world range and more, they pressure the entire industry to step up.

And as classic automakers like Toyota, VW, and GM ramp up electric lineups overdue for modernization, they‘ll need to work doubly hard competing with the state-of-the-art Korean offerings too. Even potential segment disruptors like Sony and Apple can‘t dismiss technologies like800V ultra-fast charging setting new norms.

Within a few years, Hyundai seems uniquely positioned for EV leadership in multiple regions thanks to the flexible and cost-effective scale E-GMP permits. And as brand familiarity grows and assumptions get challenged, even Tesla loyalists may find themselves seduced by the svelte Ioniq 6 or muscular Ioniq 7 three-row SUV.

The tide seems to be turning in Hyundai‘s favor. And the ripples look primed to lift EVs definitively into the mainstream.

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