Greener cars are sure to send many vehicles to auto recycling centers in the near future.
Looming ZEV and CAFÉ standards are pushing major automakers to work faster. Hyundai Motor American recently announced that the company will release 14 new alternative-fuel models by 2020.
Putting that in perspective, the automaker currently has only one hybrid, one plug-in, and one very new fuel cell vehicle. Adding 14 more is quite a lofty goal, but it does indicate that it can be done and quickly. Since the goal is a cleaner environment, that has to be a good thing.
The announcement made by CEO Dave Zuchowski was made at AutoConference LA. He explained that Hyundai will release nine hybrids, including five standard hybrids and four plug-ins. The company is also planning four electric-only cars and a fuel cell vehicle.
Hyundai had already announced a trio of Ioniq models, which are included in the 14 models referenced by Zuchowski. The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid and Ioniq electric are expected to arrive winter 2017. The Ioniq plug-in has a summer release date. The company has even used eco-conscious sourcing to replace heavier materials and plastics in the car’s body.
It is interesting to note that Kia had already announced 14 green models, demonstrating that the two related companies are tracking in the same direction.
Current green vehicles haven’t been embraced by U.S. consumers due to low gasoline prices. Without demand to drive the industry, fuel efficiency deadlines are more artificial than they might have been otherwise. From the iconic Prius to the Hyundai’s own Sonata hybrid, sales haven’t matched expectations.
Auto Company Incentives
Despite low sales, the incentive for auto companies is simple. If auto manufacturers miss the targets, there will be high fines. Hyundai alone could be stuck paying $125 million in CAFE and ZEV yearly fines.
The challenge for the new technologies is two-fold. First, they must meet expectations in terms of performance and utility. This is especially vital with electric-only cars that must contend with limited battery range. Second, they must do all of this and keep the cost low enough to attract the American consumer.
In his announcement about the new vehicles, CEO Zuchowski reiterated that his company intended to solve these current green car shortcomings. Solving the longevity problem, the CEO added that all Hyundai batteries, whether PHEV, hybrid or electric, would come with a lifetime warranty. This complements the automaker’s current emphasis on offering the longest warranty coverage in the business.
Hyundai has already released the 2017 Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle. This compact SUV is making history as the first of its kind to offer fuel cell technology. In fact, it’s the first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle ever. Hyundai claims that it can perform like a regular internal combustion engine. Hydrogen fuel passes through the fuel cell stack and reacts to air that’s also pumped in. The result is electricity for the battery and motor. The only emission is water.
Hyundai’s better known alternative fuel vehicle is the Sonata hybrid, ranked number nine by U.S. News and World Reports. There’s also a Sonata plug-in. In the market, the Sonata Hybrid faces off with best-sellers such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Honda Accord Hybrid.
Competition is fierce, especially when you consider that demand is not meeting expectations. Among current hybrids, U.S. News and World Report ranks six Toyota cars in the top 15. The automaker also has made headlines with hybrid editions of the popular RAV4 and Highlander SUVs. Scoring high in the rankings, Ford has four models, and Honda has three, including its CR-Z crossover. Chevy has two models in the top five, including the number one ranked Chevy Malibu Hybrid and the number five ranked Chevy Volt. The automaker has also made headlines recently with its Chevy Bolt, an electric car that’s been named Motor Trend Car of the Year. Even Chrysler has gotten into the game with a hybrid edition of its all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
Hyundai’s green push is welcome news for the environment. It certainly signifies the company’s desire to meet government standards without flinching.