Hyundai's Electric Vehicle Push Is Absolutely Working

There’s one automaker that stands in stark contrast to all of the doom-filled headlines about uneven electric vehicle sales in 2023, and that is Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group. While last year saw record EV sales from just about every brand that bothers to sell them, it also saw uneven purchasing, questions over demand and continued issues with software and public charging. But the data from last year increasingly shows that Hyundai’s approach—building some of the world’s best EVs at fairly competitive price points—is paying off handsomely, and that trend seems only poised to accelerate in 2024.

A new report out today from BloombergNEF, the news wire’s energy research arm, indicates that based on preliminary sales data, Hyundai and Kia together made up more than 8% of the new EVs sold in the U.S. last year. (BloombergNEF lumped sales of the Genesis luxury models in with Hyundai.)

Get Fully Charged

2023’s narrative on EV sales

Dealers, executives and even some fed-up owners helped feed a narrative that EV sales were faltering last year, even as a number of brands reported record sales numbers. But Hyundai, Kia and Genesis seem to especially be bright spots in the electric world. 

This means that not only did Hyundai Motor Group outpace General Motors and Ford at EV sales, but the Korean company is now the number two automaker in the U.S. behind Tesla. (As a single, standalone brand, however, Ford is still ahead of the Koreans.) 

That’s huge, and it’s proof that Hyundai’s all-in approach to EVs is working. Moreover, it’s proof that some of the big gambles Hyundai has made in recent years—on design, on tech and features Americans want—seem to have been the right moves. 

“Hyundai’s EVs stand out thanks to their impressive charging power and efficiency,” BloombergNEF EV analyst Corey Cantor wrote. “The Ioniq 5 can utilize 350-kilowatt chargers, while the Ioniq 6 is one of the most efficient EV sedans currently on the market, with an Environmental Protection Agency–rated efficiency of 4.6 miles per kilowatt-hour. Kia’s electric cars have also had a strong year, with the EV9, the new three-row SUV launched in December, hitting over 1,000 units sold in just one month.”

All of this is equally impressive considering almost none of Hyundai Motor Group’s EVs qualified for any tax credits last year, unless they were leased; the automaker did see a great deal of sales success there, however. BloombergNEF indicates that in November, 44% of Ioniq 5 sales were leases, about double what the brand normally does. 

InsideEVs will issue our own official sales reports on Hyundai, Kia and Genesis EV sales in the coming weeks when final reports are in, but BloombergNEF’s findings track with much of our own data throughout 2023. And it tracks with my own predictions for 2024: that the Korean automaker finally deserves to be considered on par with Tesla and BYD as the emerging global power players in this space. What’s more, the Kia EV9 three-row crossover is barely on sale yet, but early reviews and trends indicate it’s destined to be another hit. 

But as Cantor pointed out in an email to InsideEVs, some questions remain. While Hyundai Motor Group as a whole is handsomely profitable (and sales of all of its cars have grown exponentially), it’s unclear how much profit—if any—it is making from its EVs. It’s also unclear if these sales milestones track with any of Hyundai’s internal targets. 

Still, it’s further proof that if anyone isn’t paying attention to what Hyundai is doing right now, that needs to change and soon.

Contact the author: [email protected]