Hyundai Engineers a Multi-Modal Electrified Mobility Future

Everything from e-scooters to eVTOLs are in development.

Hyundai’s Supernal advanced air mobility operation intends to have electric VTOL craft (concept shown) in service by 2028. (Hyundai)

Here’s a Hyundai vehicle that you’re likely not familiar with: It has LED headlamps at the front, a lithium-ion battery to drive its motor, a digital interface and is designed with a compact footprint.

To be a “smart mobility” solutions provider takes more than cars and crossovers. Hyundai’s e-scooter features a tri-folding design and a manageable curb weight of 7.7 kg. (Hyundai)

It’s an electric scooter weighing 17 lb. (7.7 kg) and is configured so that it can be readily folded for carrying or be fitted into a Hyundai vehicle with four wheels rather than two. It has a 10.5-Ah battery and a 20-km (12.4-mi.) range. By comparison, the Ioniq 5 is offered with either a 58- or 77-kWh lithium-polymer battery and has an EPA-estimated range of 303 mi. (487 km).

But as Trevor Lai, senior manager, product planning, Hyundai Motor America, points out, the e-scooter as a “last-mile” mode of transportation is in keeping with the company’s efforts to transform itself from a traditional automobile manufacturer to a “smart mobility solutions provider.”

Beyond the norm

While that is the sort of thing that plenty of auto OEMs are saying nowadays, Hyundai is showing a serious strategic commitment to this undertaking. It has established a joint venture with Aptiv, called Motional, to develop driverless technology. Motional is currently partnering with Lyft, Via and Uber Eats.

Motional is almost an example of table-stakes in what is going on as OEMs work to have some level of autonomous capability (e.g., GM and Cruise; Ford and Argo AI). Hyundai goes one better with Supernal, its advanced air mobility operation that intends to have electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft in service by 2028. That goes far above what other OEMs are doing (e.g., at the 2019 CES, Cadillac showed VTOL concepts – but they were just that, concepts).

Still, the primary focus at Hyundai is on traditional vehicles, but even there it is focusing on alternative powertrain setups, as in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, Lai points out. It also has the Nexo fuel cell electric vehicle in its lineup, as well as the Xcient FCEV Class-8 truck.

Hyundai Motor Co. is investing $16.2 billion globally on electrification with plans to have a full portfolio of EV models available by 2030.

Portfolio approach

The Ioniq 5, Hyundai’s battery-electric flagship, is available with a single 168-kW motor for a rear-drive arrangement or two motors – 74 kW at the front and 165 kW at the rear. (Hyundai)
The Tucson PHEV and Santa Fe PHEVs are powered by a 66.9-kW electric motor and a 13.8-kWh lithium battery, providing an electric range of approximately 33 miles. With a Level 2 charger, the battery recharge occurs in about two hours. (Hyundai)

At present, Hyundai has engineered a wide offering of electrified vehicles that are currently available, from the previously mentioned Ioniq 5 BEV and Nexo FCEV to other offerings. The company has just done a refresh of the Kona Electric, which has a 64-kWh LG Chem lithium-ion polymer battery. The compact crossover has a claimed range of 258 mi. (415 km) and a traction motor rated at 150 kW at 3,600 rpm.

Hyundai has developed what it calls its TMED (Transmission Mounted Electric Device) architecture for hybrid/plug-in hybrid applications in its crossovers. In this setup, the electric motor is located between the engine and the transmission, with a clutch between the engine and the motor.

For the Santa Fe and Tucson powertrain setups (they are both the same), the hybrid has a 44.2-kW traction motor and a 1.5-kWh high-voltage battery, while the plug-in uses a 66.9-kW traction motor and a 13.8-kWh high-voltage battery. In both cases there is a 179-hp 1.6-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 179 hp (133 kW) and a 6-speed automatic transmission that is optimized for hybrid applications. The vehicles also have a 13-kW hybrid starter-generator. The system output for the hybrid is 226 hp (168 kW); the plug-in generates a claimed 260 hp (194 kW).

Lai notes the TMED architecture as well as the E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) that underpins the Ioniq 5 will be used for other yet-to-be-introduced BEVs. “Modularity is important. It helps protect for the future,” he said. Clearly, the future is something that Hyundai is creating right now.