The future’s bright (and potentially very electric) for Hyundai

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Onwards and upwards

Hyundai certainly appears to be loving life at the moment. The Ioniq, its mid-sized Prius rival made famous for being available with the option of three entirely different drive trains, has just hit the roads to critical acclaim (we’ll give you our views on this game changer before the year’s out, don’t you worry about that), an ‘N Performance’ spin-off brand has been announced for a range of fast road cars, and the firm has also ramped up its motorsport activity after re-appearing in the World Rally Championship after over a decade off back in 2014.

It was during the unveiling of Hyundai’s rather sexy 2017 i20 Coupe WRC model in Italy this week that Autocar managed to shed even more light on the South Korean firm’s exciting future, and it sounds like a lot of its antics on both road and track could be powered by batteries. Talking to Motorsport President Gyoo-Heon Choi, it’s clear the company is thriving on the boundary-pushing benefits that re-entering competitive motorsport has brought recently.

““I can say especially in research and development, the impact is huge,” he said. “Many Hyundai [Motor Company] engineers are visiting Hyundai Motorsport and with many projects we are working together. So there’s lots of co-working in this area.”

Hyundai i20 coupe WRC rally car
Cars like the stunning i20 Coupe WRC could soon be rocking hybrid power

Formula E?

But the bit that really got us going was when Choi was questioned about electric motorsport: ““We are also thinking about other areas, like Formula E,” he was happy to reveal. And as for electric rallying? “In circuit racing it’s easier [to develop electric drivetrains], but in rally, where it’s a very long distance, very tough on the car, it’s too difficult,” he said. “I want us to develop some green energy concepts in rally, but it won’t be within one year or even three.”

Artist impression EV Performance
Artist impression EV Performance

It’s estimated that hybrid powertrains could find their way into WRC regulations before the end of the decade, following patterns already shown in Formula 1 and many endurance race series.

Read the full interview here and see what you think…