Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Guessing Game

If you're like me, you don't like concept cars. Most concept cars, the vast majority of them, are promises never kept. The car companies make something, typically out of plastic and make it look like something that might be real. It's shiny. It's astounding. It's radical. And when it comes to market, it's been meh'd to death by safety regulations and just basic physics. Like I said, a promise not kept.

So, generally speaking, I stay away from playing the guessing game on what companies will or won't do based on pictures and pre-production prototypes and styrofoam mock-ups.

But...there's lot of space to fill on the internet and endless speculation sometimes means readers are all in for a episode after episode of the "This Is What We Know Right Now" show.

Enter, hybridcars.com...
So here was the Toyota Prius, minding its own business as the world’s best-selling gas-electric car, and wouldn’t you know someone had to come up with a direct competitor.
So, yeah. Hyundai beens talking, a lot, about Ioniq but what we haven't seen are EPA numbers, tests, safety ratings and some real world driving experience. On the other side, Prius has a record record of more than a decade and a half of performance and reliability and, forgive the extra "and", and, of delivering what they're promise.

Don't get me wrong, I like Hyundai and I hope the Ioniq is an amazing car. Toyota needs companies such as Hyundai to push them to do better, to price more competitively and, in the case of Ioniq, offer strong plug-in and full EV versions.

But, like I said, so far, it's just been a prototype sitting on the floor of a car show convention hall. I did sit in the Ioniq and I'll say this, like the exterior, it's very, uh, non-challenging. Let me put that in better, more specific terms. The exterior of Ioniq is intentionally designed to blend in. To be what Toyota was excoriated for for year, it's boring. And the interior, it's like going back in time. It's boring. The interior of the Ioniq is plasticky, in my opinion. It looks and feels like a cheap car. It's not bad, inside. It's spacious. The seats are comfortable but it really feels like I'm in a gas car from the mid nineties. And maybe that's the point.

Neither has specified EPA numbers yet, but Toyota says the Prius Prime could get around the same as the non-plug-in Prius, perhaps around 52 mpg, and the Hyundai could get more – as much as 56, likely no less than 51, and ultimately to be determined.
Like I said, Toyota has a record here. Hyundai, not so much. So I think it's incumbent on Hyundai to show us confirmed numbers and get this car on the road to prove it can do what Hyundai is claiming. I'll Toyota a little latitude here. They've got a track record.
Hyundai also touts higher efficiency in electric drive – 125 MPGe versus the Toyota’s estimated 120.
Same as above except I'll note both companies have been playing a cat and mouse game with numbers, dragging it out as long as they can, to see who will be the "champ". Which, in a sense, is just wasting our time because the real differences are likely to be minimal.
Of course of great concern to any car shopper is price, and this is to be determined.
Without specifying dollars requested, Toyota has positioned the Prime as atop the range of its Prius line which goes into the lower 30s, and Hyundai has said even less about what to expect price-wise.

Hyundai’s approach has been to undercut or be priced closely to perceived competitors and it would not be surprising to see it sticker for less, but how much less is an open question.
Cat and mouse. It's a game and not one in which we, the car buyers, are given a voice. We'll see. While Hyundai images and product quality has soared in the last decade so have their prices. It will be interesting to see who can undercut who here. The real bottom line here, we have to wait to see real numbers.