Originally Posted by Setec Astronomy
We were on a road here in the US (pun intended I guess) with the new CAFE regs which would have pushed hybrids into the mainstream. Every car would have been a hybrid, the car companies wouldn't have made any distinction ("that's just the way they make them now", shrug) and people wouldn't really have paid any attention.
Now they are rolling back all those regs and it will be 2007 all over again when some world crisis cranks US gas prices up over $4/gal again.
The car companies in general I guess look at this as a nerd technology that they need to market to nerds. Look at GM, that has, from time to time, been at the forefront of these technologies, with their aborted EV1 effort in the early 90's, to the mild hybrids they were doing, to the Volt. The mild hybrids hardly seemed worth the effort, while the Volt was kind of nerdy in some ways.
Why they can't implement a middle-of-the-road hybrid that isn't nerdy and still gets a lot better mileage than the "base" car, I don't understand. Many cars come in a base, luxury, and sport version...why not add a fuel economy version?
I applaud the "normalcy" of the Ioniq, but they still made a discrete model that puts it in the "weird" category, since there is an EV version. Eh, for all I know, the Hyundai dealers are doing a good job of selling the Sonata Hybrid, I wouldn't know because I don't go into a car dealer like normal people do. If I recall, the Sonata Hybrid has higher combined HP than the regular car. That's the way they should sell it, "this hybrid model has more horsepower and gets better gas mileage (42 vs. 29), but it costs $4500 more". Customer: "what does "hybrid" mean?" Salesman: "It's just more advanced technology, that's why it's more expensive".
The problem of course is it will only save $500 a year at current gas prices, and nobody wants to spend $4500 more to save $500 a year, when they can take that $4500 and buy the model where the doors close by themselves, because who wants to be closing a door? Sorry, the frivolity of people puts me in a bad mood.
The question I always got asked once people understood my Prius was fuel-efficient was 'how long is it going to take to pay for itself'. The reality being probably 6 years or so. But everyone knew what a Prius was, even if they didn't know exactly how it worked, and they knew it cost more than a similarly equipped 'normal' car.
The Ioniq on the other hand is not really known, so even though it's a line of vehicles dedicated to electric drivetrains, I doubt that most will think it weird when it basically looks and drives like any other car. What is a little disappointing is that Hyundai aren't marketing it at all, as far as I can tell, not so much that they aren't selling it the right way - though I certainly agree that marketing it as a normal car that just happens to be very fuel efficient would be the right way to push the HEV at least, since there's little in the way of premium in cost to the buyer for the hybrid drivetrain.
Clearly it is true that there is little market for fuel efficiency in the US, where most buyers seem far more fixated on size and bling as symbols of status and expressions of desired self-image. I don't get this at all, but then if I did, I probably wouldn't have given a second thought to an Ioniq, and would be driving around in an F150 instead, complaining at having to spend $80 a week just to commute to and from work.
I suspect that US car makers understand their market, and so have little interest in building fuel efficient vehicles that they can only hope to sell in numbers in overseas markets where they don't compete well, if at all. So our niche markets here are served mostly by foreign manufacturers building cars for more mature markets elsewhere, with the US thrown into their strategies...if we're lucky.
With Hyundai/Kia, and Toyota etc, we are fortunate in that they do at least bring fuel efficient models to market here, even if they don't sell many.