Yesterday Hyundai announced that the Ioniq Hybrid will cost around $23,000 when it goes on sale in the US, which makes it some $2,000 cheaper than its main competitor, Toyota Prius. In addition, the Hyundai can claim to be considerably more efficient than the Toyota, at least on paper, promising 58 mpg combined to the latter’s 52 mpg. So far things look promising for the Hyundai, but can it really succeed where the likes of Honda Insight failed?
The popularity of the Toyota Prius in the US (sold in ) has long been a source of envy of other carmakers, and many have tried to get a slice of the growing hybrid pie. However, so far most such efforts have fallen short: hybrid versions of mainstream cars come and go without leaving much of a mark on the market (think VW Jetta Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid etc.), while the second-generation Honda Insight, conceived as a serious Prius rival at a lower price point failed to attract a following.
So, how successfully will the Ioniq compete against the Prius? It’s hard to tell… On one hand, it has the on-paper advantage of lower price, better milage, a handsome (if conservative) exterior, and it does without the dreaded CVT employed by the Prius. On the other hand, though, Prius is a very well-honed package in its fourth generation, reviews from Europe suggest the Ioniq is OK without being great, and ultimately the success of the Prius has always been down to that subjective “want it” factor that makes eco warriors shell out more for a car they’re proud to be seen driving. For what it’s worth, in Europe the Ioniq was able to outsell the well-established Prius in only its sixth month on the market (Ioniq sales vs Prius sales), though the US is a larger, potentially more demanding market (the Prius sold only about 16,000 units in Europe in 2016, compared to almost 100,000 in the US).
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