Charge It Up

Hyundai reveals the Ioniq 5’s secret weapon against Tesla

The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 have a new must-have feature — here’s what it means for the future of EV ownership.

Hyundai and Kia, two Korean automakers owned by the same company — though neither one likes to admit it — are no strangers to electric vehicles.

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a perfectly decent (if a bit bland) commuter EV, while the Kia Niro EV is the same thing in a slightly different wrapper. Now, to spice things up a bit, the Koreans are bringing their EV A-game with the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

If 2021 is the year of the exciting EV thanks to the new Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai and Kia are bringing up the rear with gusto.

The two EVs are built on the same E-GMP architecture, though the differences between the cars are significant. The Ioniq 5 has a spartan, futuristic interior while the EV6 has a much sportier feel and there’s even a 576-horsepower GT version coming.

We’ll save the Hyundai vs. Kia competition for another day (though the rivalry between the two companies is fierce) and instead talk about the killer app made possible by that terrific E-GMP platform: Really Fast Charging

The EV6 and Ioniq 5 both use 800-volt battery systems, which has been the sole domain of ultra-lux EVs like the Porsche Taycan until now. These cars are less than half the cost of the Porsche, but that future-proofed battery allows for much faster charge times.

The Ioniq 5 at a slower, level 2 charging station.Hyundai

“Our ultimate goal is not competitor EVs,” said Ryan Miller, manager of electrified powertrain development at the Hyundai Kia America Technical Center, in an interview with Automotive News. “It’s internal combustion engines. And to close that gap is a monumental task.”

He’s right. The two cars are nearly on par with the fastest charge speeds you can get from Porsche and Tesla — Miller did make a claim to Automotive News about how his cars would “dominate” the Tesla Model Y in miles of range added, which will have to be tested in the real world. Still, the claims Hyundai makes are impressive.

The company says the Ioniq 5 will be able to charge its 77.4 kWh battery pack from 10 to 80 percent in 18 minutes on a 350 kW charger. According to Inside EVs, a 2021-era Tesla Model 3 can charge on a new 250 kW V3 Supercharger from 10 to 80 percent in 28 minutes.

Shaving 10 minutes off a road trip pit stop is no small feat. But, there’s a big but: You have to find a 350 kW charger, and that’s not always easy. Most of the public 350 kW chargers are on the Electrify America network, which is still limited but growing rapidly.

Tesla uses 400-volt battery systems but at a higher voltage, which, Hyundai says, puts more stress on both batteries and charging stations. At the moment, 800-volt systems are more expensive to source and build, but Hyundai sees value in it — and in being the fastest EV around.

By delivering close to a full top-up in just 18 minutes (assuming you don’t run the battery dry and stop at 80 percent, which is typical for fast charging as it can take as long to charge the final 20 percent as it did for the first 80), that’s getting close to competitive with an internal combustion car filling up with gas — if you budget time for a restroom and snack break.

If Hyundai and Kia deliver on their charging promises, the Ioniq 5 and EV6 may be the best bang-for-your-buck EVs on the market.

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