The math doesn’t add up.
These are times of feast for crossovers and famine for cars. Meanwhile, auto makers such as Hyundai and Honda
are introducing new lines of green vehicles to meet global regulations — and all of them are cars.
Why not mix what consumers want with what auto makers need to sell and make these vehicles crossovers?
Blame Toyota’s Prius, for starters.
With 5.6 million units sold globally over its lifetime, the Prius family has created a template for a fuel-efficient vehicle that consumers instantly recognize. Brands looking to emulate that success know that to deviate from Toyota’s
example could be fatal to their ambitious plans.
“With what Prius has been able to accomplish over several generations and what we provide with the Ioniq … we just thought that we could pull that off better in a sedan variant vs. a crossover variant,” Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America CEO, told Automotive News.
Aerodynamics also play a big role in shaping these vehicles. Hyundai’s Ioniq line and Honda’s Clarity lineup needed to be as efficient and slippery as possible to give the cars the best range and fuel economy.
“We are absolutely trying to maximize fuel economy,” Jeff Conrad, general manager of Honda, told Automotive News. “Distance, mileage, that sort of thing all matter.”
There’s no reason to dump piles of money and time into a fuel-sipping lineup only to then sacrifice large portions of efficiency with a crossover body that’s heavier and slower through the wind. If you’re going to have a cookie, have a cookie.
Even so, Hyundai has a Plan B. Its corporate cousin Kia will soon launch the Niro, a crossover hybrid based on the same platform as the Ioniq.
If consumers flock to the Kia crossover and ignore the Hyundais, the platform was designed such that the next generation of Ioniq models could switch to a crossover setup.
“As a company, we hedged our bets and were evaluating the acceptance of both models,” Zuchowski said. “That’s something we could switch fairly quickly.”
Despite making their new lines car-based, Hyundai and Honda aren’t leaving crossovers out of their green-car plans.
Hyundai currently sells a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain wrapped in the body of the previous-generation Tucson crossover. Work on the next-gen model is under way on a dedicated crossover platform, Zuchowski said.
And Honda’s next-generation CR-V — due next year — will likely have a plug-in hybrid variant.
After all, neither auto maker would want to fall behind Toyota again. Its new RAV4 hybrid — the only such vehicle in its class — is already finding an eager customer base.