If the Hyundai Ioniq is indeed a competitor for the Toyota Prius, visitors to the 2016 New York International Auto Show will get to see the battle firsthand. On the eve of its North American debut, Hyundai is preparing at least one model of its new electric and hybrid nameplate. For its part, Toyota managed to up the ante with a teaser that suggests the long-awaited Prius plug-in could steal Ioniq’s thunder.
Details about Hyundai’s new green car line are emerging by the week. At a March 18 event held in Korea, senior executives told Automotive News the standard hybrid would have two versions — including an uber-efficient eco model — that would beat the corresponding Prius models when they get their EPA ratings.
The EV model should be right in line with the Nissan Leaf SV (107 miles) and upgraded Ford Focus Electric (100+ miles) when the latter arrives in late 2016. As for the plug-in hybrid Ioniq, we are expecting something along the lines of the Sonata PHEV, or 27 miles in electric mode. Since we only have seen pricing for the different models in Korea, the potential for these cars on the U.S. market remains up in the air.
One thing is certain, however: A new Prius plug-in hybrid would be ready to reclaim its place among the top sellers in America. If Toyota’s teaser turns out to be a PHEV with over, say, 25 miles of range, it could crash Hyundai’s NYIAS party.
Toyota was typically elusive in its flash of the new Prius, offering a shadowy glimpse of the back and saying only it would be “the next mechanical marvel” in the hybrid lineup. From this clue, we are certainly leaning toward a plug-in model that would leave its predecessor’s negligible range in the dust.
The automaker’s work in the electric drivetrain department has disappeared since the last Prius PHEV went out of production. Instead, we have seen the automaker turn decisively toward the hydrogen fuel cell technology it sees as a more sustainable future for its brand.
In Hyundai’s corner, if the Ioniq hybrid could top Prius in looks and (as claimed) performance, too, then a new contender will emerge in New York. A competitive price is a possible wild card to watch for, if that information is released at the automaker’s press conference.
Toyota has pole position in terms of reveal times. It opens NYIAS March 23 with its Prius debut at 9:10 a.m., followed by Hyundai at 10:15. May the best green car win.
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