Hyundai’s Ioniq EV Delivers Ultra-Low Total Cost of Ownership With Novel Recharging Credit

Photo of 2017 Ioniq Electric Vehicle (EV).
Photo of Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric; photos courtesy Hyundai America

Recognizing that electric vehicle customers expect a charging plan with their new cars, Hyundai is now offering the “Ioniq Unlimited+” subscription program for the company’s Ioniq Electric (currently available in California only). The subscription program is unique in the industry because it wraps into the lease payment a reimbursement for electricity, based on the number of miles driven, up to the first 50,000 miles. This “recharging credit” will be applied directly to the owners’ subsequent monthly payment. Unlike other automaker charging plans, which generally are limited to one charging service provider and do not include home charging, Hyundai’s plan is completely agnostic as to where the driver plugs in.

The monthly recharging credit, which is included in the $275/month lease price for the base model (having an MSRP of $30,335), essentially offers drivers a charging allowance for use at home, at work, or on the go. The formula Hyundai uses to determine the credit is: Monthly mileage * kWh/mile * Cost per kWh.

These factors are derived as follows:

  • Monthly mileage: Transmitted from the vehicle to Hyundai via Hyundai’s Blue Link service (i.e., the vehicle’s telematics service)
  • kWh/mile: 28 kWh per 124 miles = 0.2258 kWh/mile
  • Cost per kWh: The then in effect California Residential “Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State” as published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Electric Power Monthly publication (or $0.186 if the EIA source is no longer available).

An important point to remember is that if the driver uses a charger that requires payment in excess of the reimbursement credit on a per-kWh basis the driver will not be made whole. On the other hand, if the driver plugs in at a free charger, the reimbursement credit will be 100 percent profit because it’s based on miles driven and not the cost of a particular charging session.

Although the Unlimited+ plan is available only for vehicles leased in California, the recharging credit will apply even if the vehicle is no longer in the state (though the reimbursement credit will remain pegged to the price of electricity in California, which should generally be beneficial to the driver because California has some of the highest retail electricity prices in the country).

Photo of plugging in a Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

To maximize the recharging credit, the vehicle would have to cover an average of about 45 miles per day over three years. That would result in a monthly credit of about $60 in addition to avoided gasoline costs of approximately $150 per month (assuming the Ioniq replaces a traditional vehicle getting 29 MPG with gasoline at a California average price of $3.055/gallon).

If an Ioniq Electric driver is so fortunate as to get free charging at work and have solar panels at home, the savings of more than $200/month enjoyed from the recharging credit combined with avoided gasoline and maintenance means that the total cost of driving an Ioniq Electric is about half that a traditional vehicle.

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