By on July 28, 2017

2017 Hyundai Ioniq - Image: HyundaiSince arriving early this year, Hyundai Motor America has managed only a meager 4,881 sales of its Prius-fighting Ioniq. Hyundai is certain there are far more Ioniq sales that could occur, however, if only Hyundai had the Ioniqs to sell.

Supply isn’t just tight — the Ioniq Electric is essentially nonexistent at Hyundai’s showrooms in California, the only state where it’s (supposed to be) available.

Yet while Hyundai awaits greater Ioniq inventory, the lack of which is clearly to blame for the low volume to date, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Kia came out on top in this deal.

The Kia Niro is a crossover, albeit a low-slung front-wheel-drive crossover TTAC struggles to call a crossover, that’s selling 70-percent more often than the Hyundai.

It’s not as though Niros are plentiful on Kia dealer lots, but at least Kia dealers have Niros to sell. According to, there are 5,200 Niros in stock in Kia’s U.S. dealer network; only 1,700 Ioniqs. While the Ioniq majors on fuel economy — its EPA combined rating is a Prius-beating 58 miles per gallon — the Niro tops out at 50 mpg and in some versions rises only as high as 43 mpg.

But maximum fuel economy is clearly not the main source of appeal here. Americans want SUVs and crossovers, and the Niro’s black sills and crossover profile, despite the fact that it’s all pretense, caters to America’s desire.

It won’t help matters that the Ioniq offers little price advantage. The basic Ioniq Blue is a $22,200 car, undercutting the Niro by only $1,585. It’s becoming abundantly clear that Americans are very willing to pay many thousands more dollars for the privileges of utility vehicle ownership. $1,585? That’s nothing to 2017’s crossover buyer.2017 Kia Niro - Image: KiaFor the time being, however, we can’t accurately measure just how successful the Niro is compared with the Ioniq. “Our biggest problem with Ioniq is we don’t have enough of them,” Hyundai  Motor America vice president for product planning Mike O’Brien tells Wards Auto. O’Brien says the Ioniq’s only problem is insufficient supply.

Most people who are buying Hyundai Ioniqs are, not surprisingly, trading in a Toyota Prius. O’Brien considers Prius owners to be happy, satisfied customers. But the Ioniq’s spec sheet (and less futuristic design) is winning over some of the Prius faithful. “I think the numbers are one of the biggest things that has helped us out.” O’Brien says. “It has caused people to take notice.”

As for the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Hyundai Motor America has none. And while O’Brien wants to meet existing demand — Hyundai is increasing monthly Ioniq EV production by 50 percent, Wards says — huge infrastructure hurdles remain.

“Everybody has taken the position that everybody has a wall socket in their house,” O’Brien says, “but obviously for a BEV that can take more than a day for many vehicles, sometimes two or three days. So it’s not a practical solution.”

Hyundai nevertheless plans “on being where the volume is going to be,” in the future. Doing so, of course, will require actually having cars in stock at dealers.

[Images: Hyundai, Kia Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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19 Comments on “Hyundai Ioniq Sales Are Low, Inventory Ramp-Up Is Slow, Kia Niro Is the One Making Dough...”

  • avatar
    Dr. Doctor

    Considering that the Ioniq EV only offers 110 miles of range and serves as a CARB compliance car I doubt we’ll see widespread sales of it until the point where Hyndai is ready to introduce a higher-capacity version that can go up against vehicles like the Model 3.

    The real benefit to the Niro isn’t that its a hybrid, but that its a crossover that gets superior mileage to the competition that doesn’t offer a comparable model. Sure, the Ioniq is cheaper, more efficient, and less eye-searingly ugly than the Prius, but most folks shopping in the market want a Prius because of the nameplate.

    • 0 avatar

      Who’s talking about the Ioniq EV? There are three variants with the hybrid being the cheapest and, obviously, most popular. But they don’t have much of a supply of any of them, and I haven’t seen much advertising.

      And the Niro is not a crossover, it’s just being marketed as one.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai has been working on both a higher range EV and an EV in a crossover body-style (not sure if it will include a hybrid and PHEV variants).

      The reason for the short supply of the Ioniq has issues with getting a greater supply of batteries from LG Chem, esp. the battery for the EV.

      Won’t see the Ioniq EV in supply anytime soon as there’s 5-6 months of back-order for the Korean market (where EVs are becoming popular, much more so than hybrids and PHEVs).

      And as I had stated before, (even if there were adequate supply of the Ioniq) the Niro was going to outsell Ioniq as it has been doing in Europe, Korea and other markets.

  • avatar

    Another green car that has the Prius as the top trade-in. Not much environmental benefit when most of the buyers already have a green car, but the real question is why the short supply? Is it a money loser, and management has put the brakes on production so they will be sure to receive their profit based bonus money this year?

    • 0 avatar

      All those batteries for the hybrid/EV tech don’t just grow on trees.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott Kirkland

      LG Chem makes the batteries for all the Ioniqs power terrains and they also supply batteries for other manufacturers. They are the bottle neck slowing down the Ioniqs supply. Though in all fairness Hyundai doubled their original estimates and LG is only trying to catch up without killing relations with their other customers.

  • avatar

    Hard to sell a Prius fighter when gasoline is around $2.50ish a gallon (YPMV) and there is nothing on the economic or market horizon that will indicate the price will go up.

    If anything, there is growing stress that could push prices on motor fuel lower as we exit the summer driving season.


  • avatar

    America’s love affair with the crossovers continues, this is further proof of that.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I call shenanigans.

    The Ioniq will never sell well, no matter which configuration (hybrid or EV). Why?
    – the hybrid is too small
    – the EV is too small and has too little range.

    Building more of them will only result in an inventory glut. GM is making the same mistake with the Bolt EV, claiming that building more cars will somehow resolve a 110-day inventory issue.

    In contrast, the Niro is a completely different body configuration (whether you agree with the ‘crossover’ term or not), and it’s very roomy inside. At 6’6″, I can sit behind myself in that car. People want roomy cars.

  • avatar

    “Americans want SUVs and crossovers, and the Niro’s black sills and crossover profile, despite the fact that it’s all pretense”

    Aside from the odd Wrangler, which SUV/CUV isn’t all about pretense ? Few people will ever use AWD or a monster-torque V8, and fewer actually need it. People buy them because they provide more functionality than most other vehicle types for the same cost, or because they feel safer in a taller/bigger car, or because they want to project an active lifestyle image to their peers.

    By providing the attributes that people want while omitting the ones they don’t actually need, maybe the Niro is being more honest than most other CUVs on the market.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re hallucinating if you think people who live where it snows or rains never use AWD or you don’t know the difference between AWD and 4 wheel drive.

  • avatar

    I am a bit confused… how can sales volume tell us anything about consumer preferences when there haven’t even been enough Of one of the options available for them to buy if they wanted to?

    That said, “crossover” or not, the Niro is a roomier and more practical choice with very little in the way of efficiency downside. As a fan of the station wagon body style, I applaud this choice.

  • avatar

    In the Matrix of the human mind, the Niro, despite its severe un-Jeepiness, exudes an SUV Vibe…

  • avatar

    It looks loads better that the current gen Prius.The real problem with the Ioniq is the split window treatment. While it aids in fuel economy, is makes rear visibility difficult. (For reference, I have a used Insight (you know the failed attempt to see a cheaper Prius) as my commuter car. It shares the same profile/window treatment as the Prius and Ioniq. I’m used to it but my kids and wife hate backing up in it).

    The Niro uses the same drivetrain but has a more open and airy greenhouse and more usable interior space. The Niro also has a more conventional small CUV profile that is popular now. “[email protected]” comment perfectly explains why the Kia will sell more than the Ioniq

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