Hyundai Wants You to Subscribe, Not Buy, its Ioniq EV

Automaker lifts a page from the smartphone industry.

by on Nov.17, 2016

Hyundai plans to offer "subscriptions" its Ioniq EV like a cellphone plan, which it calls Ioniq Unlimited.

When the new Hyundai Ioniq battery-electric vehicle rolls into California showrooms next year, the Korean carmaker wants to create what it calls a “worry-free ownership experience.”

And that means it won’t sell you the Ioniq but instead let you subscribe, much the way you might when it’s time to trade in your old smartphone in a program called “Ioniq Unlimited.”

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“We looked at the cellular phone industry,” explained David Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, “and nobody buys their phone. They sign up for a package.”

Ioniq is the dedicated platform Hyundai has developed, its response to the long-popular Toyota Prius. It will eventually be offered in three different forms, a plug-in hybrid version introduced earlier this year, with the pure battery-electric Ioniq making its debut on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A conventional hybrid version is set to follow next year.

(Hyundai Ioniq family takes center stage in Los Angeles. Click Here for the story.)

The fully electric model that launched this week will come with a 28 kilowatt-hour battery capable of up to 105 miles per charge, according to the EPA. That’s in line with many competing models, such as the Ford Focus Electric, though slightly less than half the range of the new Chevrolet Bolt set to reach showrooms before year-end.

Hyundai is planning three vehicles for the Ioniq family: An EV and two hybrids.

Like other electric with similar-sized batteries, the concern is that potential owners will steer clear because of so-called “range anxiety.” Hyundai hopes to ease such concerns – and other possible qualms – with its Subscription Ownership program.

The plan requires no down-payment, and all taxes and fees will be rolled into a fixed monthly payment. So will other ownership and maintenance costs. The program will include free maintenance, covering even routine wear-and-tear items, while also providing a lifetime battery warranty. There are no mileage limits, unlike a conventional automotive lease.

(Click Here to learn how Hyundai and Kia hope to impact the green-car market.)

The program also includes free charging at public stations, of which there are a fast-growing number around California and many other parts of the country.

Potential customers will, meanwhile, be able to handle much of the subscription process online, including searching a dealer’s inventory and checking pricing and terms. They’ll only have to go to the showroom to complete the deal.

The Hyundai Subscription Ownership program reflects a growing trend in the industry to simply vehicle buying and leasing. Alternative deals have become especially popular on zero-emissions vehicles as manufacturers look to ease motorists’ concerns. So far this year, hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles combined have generated barely three percent of overall U.S. demand.

(Hyundai plans to sell Ioniq EV family in every state. Click Here for the story.)

Hyundai is using some of the same strategies to market its Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle. There is a fixed rate for the vehicle and the price includes all the hydrogen an owner can use.

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