Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in
Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are all turning to plug-in EVs despite having become known as the world's biggest advocates for fuel cell technology as the future of the automobile.
While the talk of fuel cell technology being the "new" and future method of green propulsion still continues, there has been little progress due to the extreme costs behind its development, and a need for a reliable/deep fueling infrastructure...coupled with sparse public interest.
The three companies together say they will fast forward their PHEV intentions as a means to catch up with U.S. and German automakers that are already well underway with plug-in technology. Basically, the risk in ignoring EVs as a primary alternative fuel solution for today, is now too large to ignore.
Edmunds reported that U.S. PHEV sales climbed 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
CEO of Hyundai Motor America, Dave Zuchowski explained his companies about-face:
"PHEVs not only help automakers fulfill their regulatory obligations but also can be cheaper to buy and own than basic hybrids, once the more generous government incentives are factored in."
In addition to the Hyundai Ioniq lineup, which already includes electric, hybrid, and PHEV options, the company is looking at other current models to expand to PHEVs. Currently, the Sonata is Hyundai's only other hybrid with a PHEV option. Future plans will be for every hybrid offered to also have a "plug-in derivative", according to Zuchowksi.
Toyota should have the ability to be first out of the gate with the new intentions for adding onto existing technology, as the company already produces four standard hybrids, all of which can easily be transitioned to plug-ins. In addition, Toyota has already publicized that its Prius line will be adding the Prime PHEV later this year - and it is expected to compete as a US and worldwide plug-in best-seller.
Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor North America CEO, said:
"The next iteration of extending mileage is probably going to be plug-ins, because that takes the least amount of R&D."
"Every time you improve the battery or you improve the , then you improve the overall range and mileage of a PHEV. So to me that's the next big move in volume."
Honda announced that by 2030, two-thirds of all the company's vehicles will be electrified. Honda's upcoming Clarity model line will also include an all-electric and PHEV model next year to keep fuel cell costs down. Beyond this, the goal is to add PHEV model options to its core vehicles. Executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., John Mendel committed:
"Globally we're committed to offering a plug-in variant on our major core models in the future."
Source: Autonews, hat tip to sven!