It would be inaccurate to describe the Korean auto industry as firing on all cylinders, if only because it’s also really good at making electric vehicles, and those don’t have cylinders that fire. The electric versions of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and Kia Niro are about the only battery EVs to approach the range efficiency of the class-leading Tesla, and it makes a pretty fine hydrogen fuel cell EV as well.
On Tuesday, Hyundai Motor Group (which owns Hyundai and Kia, as well as Genesis) showed us what comes next. It’s called E-GMP, and it’s the group’s new modular BEV platform for bigger vehicles (analogous to Volkswagen Group’s PPE architecture). Hyundai Motor Group has big plans for E-GMP—a million vehicles split over 23 new models by 2025, with the first two hitting showrooms sometime in 2021.
The tech specs are similarly impressive: an all-800V electrical architecture; bi-directional charging; DC fast charging to 80 percent in 18 minutes; and a WLTP range of 500km (310 miles).
The platform is designed to build either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive BEVs, with the battery pack sandwiched between the axles. It’s highly modular, which means the various brands can use it to create everything from sleek sedans like the production version of the Prophecy concept (to be called the Ioniq 6, due in 2022) to seven-seat SUVs (the Ioniq 7, due by 2024).
Within the drive units the oil-cooled motor-generator uses hairpin windings (like those in the Porsche Taycan motors), which make for more efficient coils with less empty space. The transmission is integrated into the unit, as is the inverter, which uses more efficient silicon carbide semiconductors that boost range by about five percent.
The main drive unit looks quite compact, and Hyundai says that it is able to spin 70 percent faster and use a 33 percent higher differential ratio, giving it much improved higher torque density compared to its current electric motor. When configured for all-wheel drive, the front drive unit is fitted with a transmission disconnect that can completely decouple that drive unit from the axle for better efficiency when needed.
The company isn’t prepared to talk about kW or Nm just yet, although we should expect performance BEVs with around 447kW (600hp) at the top end, according to Albert Biermann, head of Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D division.
The battery pack uses standardized modules made up of individual pouch cells, with the number of modules based on each vehicle’s requirements. The lithium-ion cells will continue to use nickel-magnesium-cobalt chemistry, at least until such time as other cell chemistries prove superior.
The E-GMP pack sounds like a much simpler design than the group’s current battery packs, with 40 percent fewer part types and 60 percent fewer parts in total. That makes the pack more compact, which Hyundai says makes life easier for the cooling block—located below the modules—thanks to minimized heat transfer pathways. In total, the simpler design resulted in a 10 percent increase in energy density, the company told us.
The combination of more efficient cooling and an 800V means that a 350kW DC fast charger should take an E-GMP battery’s state of charge from 5 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes, which is frankly impressive. An E-GMP BEV can also use the more common 400V DC fast chargers, using its inverter to convert 400V into 800V for the battery. (Unfortunately, we were not able to get more details of how this works, but I’ll try to find out.)
Bidirectional charging is a feature request we see in the comments quite regularly, and it’s a feature that E-GMP supports, courtesy of a new integrated charging controller unit. It’s able to supply up to 3.5kW of AC power (110V or 220V) and can “operate a mid-sized air conditioner unit and a 55-inch television for up to 24 hours.” You can even charge another BEV using an E-GMP vehicle.
The first E-GMP vehicles—a midsize SUV called the Ioniq 5 and a Kia-badged BEV—are due next year.