Hyundai Bears down on EV Charging, Sustainability

Non-functioning charging stations and drab vehicle interiors are stumbling blocks to higher EV sales.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 on charge. The industry’s commitment to electrification and product-development cadence cannot wait for the charging infrastructure to be built out first, argues VP of product planning Olabisi Boyle. (Hyundai)

Inoperative public charging stations are a major irritant to both EV owners and to Hyundai Motor North America, asserts Olabisi Boyle, the company’s VP of product planning and mobility strategy.

Ioniq 6 interior showing modular touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital cluster under a single piece of glass. Infotainment and upscale amenities will be paramount in Hyundai’s EV cabins going forward. (Hyundai)

“Vehicle makers are on a journey, but we can’t stop and wait for the charging infrastructure to catch up,” Boyle told SAE Media in a recent interview.

A substantial hike in EV market share, rising steadily from the current 6% of the U.S. new-vehicle total, is widely forecast after 2025. In the interim, Hyundai has been working to “get the best partners that we can to help our customers with public charging and home charging,” Boyle said. The goal is to have significant uptime across the charging landscape.

Boyle is confident that charging station manufacturers will improve their products’ reliability over time. “A couple of years from now, this won’t be the most major issue that we have,” she said. But the industry’s commitment to electrification and product-development cadence cannot wait for the charging infrastructure to first be built out, she maintained. If that happens, “we’ll be even later on this journey to develop EV technology,” Boyle asserted.

Patented multi-charging system

“We’ve noticed recently the number of EV resistors is going down and the number of EV intenders is going up,” said Olabisi Boyle, VP of product planning. (Hyundai)

Hyundai is gaining momentum via its first dedicated battery-electric architecture, the E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform). The 2022 Ioniq 5 all-electric midsize CUV was the first Hyundai vehicle off the platform. The E-GMP provides standard 800V charging capability and can accommodate 400V charging without additional components or adapters.

A patented multi-charging system operates the vehicle’s motor and inverter to boost 400V to 800V for stable charging compatibility. With a public 350-kW DC fast-charger, the vehicle can charge from 10% SoC to 80% in 18 minutes, Hyundai claims.

The latest Hyundai vehicle that uses the E-GMP architecture is the 2023 Ioniq 6 sedan. It will be followed in 2024 by the Ioniq 7, a three-row SUV. E-GMP also underpins the Genesis GV60 luxury crossover.

For Hyundai, the in-vehicle experience is increasingly important with EVs, both while driving and while charging, according to Boyle. The company’s market-research team uses North American consumer feedback to help shape specific directions by the design and engineering groups in South Korea. “People want more than cupholders these days,” Boyle explained, noting that the EV cabin environment must be multidimensional.

“Do you want a bigger [infotainment] screen because you want to chill out inside the vehicle during that 18-minute re-charge? Do you want a front seat that fully reclines, so you can nap while the vehicle is re-charging? During a time of high Covid infection, would you like a special cubby-space for your mask,” Boyle asked.

Sustainability also is influencing Hyundai’s design and engineering direction. “We want to get to a point where almost everything on the vehicle will be made of something that can be recycled,” Boyle stated. Both the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 use PET (polyethylene terephthalate, a 100% recyclable thermoplastic) as well as natural-wool yarns and other sustainable materials in the seats, door trim, headliner, armrest and carpet. “We have to know what’s important to EV buyers because this is what’s going to be expected in 2025,” she said.