Over the 12 months since sales of the Ioniq Electric in the United States began in March of last year Hyundai sold only 544 of the cars despite an apparent backlog of pre-sale orders. Now, a premature ordering halt has been announced in a sales bulletin to dealers due to a Hyundai “temporary global battery supply shortage” apparently from their battery supplier, LG.
News of the 2018 Ioniq EV battery shortage and ordering halt was simultaneously and independently first reported Monday morning on Green Car Reports and in less dramatic fashion in a discussion about the Ioniq Electric in a longer-range EV comparison article on this website. Today, Electrek joined in and quoted the same underlying dealer bulletin “obtained by Electrek”.
The bulletin was originally posted to the IoniqForum.com website on April 21 by user “LLcoolB” from Ottawa, Ontario.
Although the bulletin describes a “global battery supply shortage” there has been no apparent coverage of any battery supply problems in the South Korean business press which keeps a close check on all aspects of the automotive industry there. There is no indication that this battery shortfall involves any company other than Hyundai and LG, its supplier.
The dealer sales bulletin also notes that production and delivery of the 2019 version of the Ioniq Electric is expected to begin as soon as July.
The version of the car marketed in South Korea just had its local 2018 model year features and pricing announced on March 22 (translated story) with no evidence of any pending significant battery pack changes other than a range increase of 191 km to 200 km from the 2017 model (a 5 percent improvement) due to unspecified optimizations.
Articles in Car and Driver, ArsTechnica, and elsewhere have asserted that the Kia Niro and the Hyundai Ioniq share the same body frame “platform” and wheelbase (106.3 inches or 2,700 mm). Kia recently announced that the Niro now has an EV variant supporting the same apparent battery pack sizes of 39 and 64 kWh as the Hyundai Kona EV. This fits with persistent speculation, sometimes asserted as fact, that the Ioniq Electric will soon be upgraded from its current 124 mile EPA range estimate based on a 28 kWh pack to a new range of at least 200 miles.
It may be implausible to gain at least 60 percent more EPA range using the existing Ioniq Electric’s battery pack design.
Even though the Kona and Niro EVs have essentially the same battery and motor specifications, an article at the South Korean news website etnews.com (translated) says they use different cells with slightly different chemistries and design optimizations.
Photos taken at the recent EVTrend Motor Show in Seoul show the design and layout of the Kona EV’s pack.
If the Kona and Niro share the same basic under-the-floor pack design and the Ioniq shares the same platform and wheelbase as the Niro then it seems plausible that Hyundai could be likewise modifying the new Ioniq to use the smaller 39 kWh version of the liquid-cooled pack and the delay in manufacturing could be due to the transition in pack design.
Hyundai dealers have reportedly told some customers with pending orders for the existing Ioniq Electric that they will switch their order to the new model year Ioniq but honor the old price. A switch from a 28 kWh air-cooled pack to a 39 kWh liquid-cooled pack might imply an increase in production costs.
It’s also not clear that a 39 kWh pack would be enough capacity to increase the Ioniq range past 200 EPA miles but it might get close.
This is all speculation and nothing about Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric plans are really known with any certainty. Usually, plans of a significant change to the battery pack would be announced months in advance along with pricing and other new feature changes. It seems odd that new 2019 models could be delivered to customers only 3 months from now with this little information available.
Perhaps this will all turn out to be much ado about not much with a slightly updated Ioniq model year just packing the same old battery and range after a short production delay.