Hyundai is studying the launch of a car-sharing system using electric vehicles, something that BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Renault already offer in Europe and the United States.
“We are thinking about a possible subscription model for EVs,” Wonhong Cho, chief marketing officer for Hyundai Motor, told Automotive News Europe in January during the CES technology show in Las Vegas.
Hyundai would own the fleet and customers could pay to use the vehicles “by miles, minutes or megawatts,” Cho said. That means tariffs could be imposed by distance traveled, time in use or energy consumption.
“That would be the pillar of our new business model in the EV market,” Cho said.
Hyundai conducted a test in Amsterdam last year with 100 units of the Ioniq full-electric vehicle through a joint venture with Car4Share. The aim of the trial was to find out how the program could be marketed in the most efficient way in a broader rollout of car-sharing as a service in the Netherlands.
The trial was suspended at the end of 2018 after more than 100,000 Ioniq car-sharing trips in Amsterdam.
Hyundai also provides vehicles to ride-hailing companies such as Grab and Uber, Cho said. Having its own rental system would transform Hyundai into an “integrated mobility-services provider” and would enable it to “push” its EVs and “have more people experience EVs,” he said.
It is too early to tell where and when the full-scale system would be launched, Cho said.
In a recent strategy speech, Hyundai Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung said the company would continue developing an array of electrified powertrains -- hybrid, full-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles -- and by 2025 would offer 44 electrified models, targeting annual sales of about 1.67 million units.
Chung also said Hyundai wants to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous robotaxis in South Korea by 2021. In addition, the automaker plans to deploy its fuel cell Nexo and battery-powered Kona crossovers for a driverless taxi service in Sejong, a city 120 km south of Seoul, which is home to major government offices.
Hyundai also plans to pursue partnerships with global industry leaders to develop autonomous-driving technologies.
Before embarking on a car-sharing service with EVs, Hyundai will have to address its battery-availability bottleneck, which so far has limited deliveries despite the zero-emissions vehicles’ success with customers.
Hyundai “did not figure out how attractive the Kona EV would be in the market,” Cho said, adding that the company is working with suppliers to improve the flow of batteries for the cars.
He promised that Hyundai would supply more Kona EVs to Europe in 2019 but did not give a time frame for the return to shorter delivery times. Hyundai Europe Chief Operating Officer Thomas Schmid said the automaker aimed to ship 11,000 Kona EVs by the end of 2018 but would need three times as many cars from South Korea to reduce the waiting time for customers to three to four months from one year.