Hyundai casts new Ioniq 6 sedan as a Tesla Model 3 rival

Hyundai unveiled its new Ioniq 6, a sedan that it says will deliver range on par with the Tesla Model 3, issuing a direct challenge to the best-selling battery-electric sedan on the market.

The Ioniq 6 — the follow-up to Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 SUV and the second model in its Ioniq EV sub-brand — will travel 610 kilometers (379 miles) on a fully charged battery, based on the European WLTP test cycle. That exceeds the 602 kilometers under the WLTP test cycle for the Model 3 Long Range.

That’s a significant accomplishment, given that Tesla has long-served as the benchmark for EV range.

“While many competing EVs have been edging closer to Tesla’s range ratings, relatively few have matched or exceeded them,” said Ed Kim, president and chief analyst for AutoPacific.

The Korean automaker, which has set an ambitious goal to become a top-three EV provider in the U.S. by 2026, hopes that its lineup’s one-two punch will give it a chance to challenge Tesla for the sales crown in the fledgling EV market.

The Tesla Model 3 is the second-best selling electric vehicle in the U.S. after the Tesla Model Y small SUV. Ranked fifth is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which serves a growing consumer demand for battery-electric SUVs.

However, sedans have been a weak spot for auto sales over the past several years, making Hyundai’s choice seem potentially counterintuitive. But analysts say that battery-electric sedans like the Ioniq 6 and Polestar 2, which also aims to dethrone the Model 3, play a strategic role in the EV market, especially for first-time buyers.

“Because sedans are generally priced significantly lower than their SUV counterparts, they represent a more affordable way to get into EVs,” said Kim. “Assuming the price of Hyundai’s new sedan undercuts the $40,000 IONIQ 5, it could represent a real value proposition for EV shoppers.”

Like the Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s new all-electric sedan will be built on its Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), an 800-volt electrical architecture that enables faster charging than comparably priced EVs, save for Tesla’s.

Hyundai has invested aggressively in expanding the Ioniq portfolio as it strives to go from a maker of affordable, entry-level cars to a top global EV brand known for daring design. The automaker has pledged to spend more than $10 billion in the U.S. by 2025 to develop technology for electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility applications for robotics.

More than half of that investment will fund a new EV plant and battery manufacturing facility in Georgia, where Hyundai plans to build at least some of the 23 EVs it plans to roll out by 2025, such as the Ioniq 7 three-row SUV, an important segment for drivers with large families. The Ioniq 6 will be built in South Korea.

The Ioniq 5, which swept the World Car Awards this spring, showed that Hyundai is willing to be daring with its EV design. That theme continues with the dome-shaped Ioniq 6, whose low hood and high roof make it curvier than most cars, said SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai Global Design Center. The dimensions allow for a cocoon-like, high-ceilinged cabin where occupants can relax or work.

A 64-color ambient lighting system helps “create a mindful space that restores mental energy and enhances inspiration,” Lee said.

Ioniq 6 will go on sale in the U.S. early next year. The price has not been announced.

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