Hyundai has revealed the first teaser images of its upcoming subcompact EV, the Inster. Based on the adorable Korean-market Casper and looking similarly cute in profile, this may be one of the best small EV designs on the market.

Whether it'll be on our market, however, remains to be seen. We already knew, however, that Europe was getting a Casper-based EV, we just didn't know it'd get a new name. Our past report indicates it could start below $22,000 in Europe. 

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The quest for an affordable EV

The next great frontier for electric vehicles is super affordable models. Right now, the high cost of batteries makes that difficult, but many breakthroughs are happening to bring prices down. Hyundai and its corporate cousin Kia have both committed to cheaper subcompact EVs for Europe and other markets. 

Hyundai says "Inster" comes from a combination of "intimate," "innovative" and "Casper," but that combo sounds better in theory than "Inster" does in real life. 

Hyundai's teaser release says that the Inster will be revealed in late June at the Busan International Mobility Show in Korea. It's normal for Hyundai to reveal many models in Korea first, but there are other reasons to doubt that it'll make it stateside.

Gallery: Hyundai Inster

First is that the company says it is targeting a 220-mile (355 km) range on the WLTP cycle, the range cycle used in Korea and Europe, but not the U.S. Second, and more obviously, the Inster looks tiny. Americans are famously averse to small vehicles, and despite multiple attempts from Fiat, Mini and others, that truism seems to hold for EVs, too.

Finally, the Inster is based on the Korea-only Hyundai Casper, which likely wasn't designed with U.S. regulations in mind. 

Hyundai Casper 2022

The Inster will be based on the internal-combustion Hyundai Casper, pictured here.

The good news is that the Casper is a delightful little design, with a bulldog-like mix of blunt-nosed aggression and adorable, comically oversized facial features. The teaser images suggest that the Inster will get the same overall shape, with pronounced roof rails working as a good accent. But it looks like the Inster will get sharper, more sophisticated front and rear lights, bringing it in line with the Ioniq family's digital-pixel theme. 

I'd love to see these on our shores, but I don't know if Hyundai could make it cheap enough to overcome Americans' well-documented aversion to small, cute cars. With the Kia EV3 slated to reach the U.S., though, maybe America can finally discover the joys of small, affordable car ownership. 

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