Hyundai said Thursday it will begin building electric vehicles under its high-performance N brand created to compete with luxury sports cars from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The automaker said the Ioniq 5 N, a high-performance version of its battery-electric SUV, will launch in 2023. Hyundai also premiered Thursday two high-performance concepts -- the RN22e and N Vision 74 -- to test technology for future models. Neither concept is confirmed for production.
Hyundai shared details this week on its upcoming Ioniq 6 battery-electric sedan, which is designed to challenge the Tesla Model 3 for the sales crown. The Ioniq 6 will travel 610 kilometers on a fully charged battery, based on the European WLTP test cycle. That’s about on par with the Model 3’s Long Range version.
The RN22e concept uses the Ioniq 6’s body design as well as its Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that enables its extended range. The N Vision 74 concept, which draws inspiration from both the Hyundai N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo and 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe concept, is a high-performance hydrogen fuel cell hybrid model.
Both are designed to showcase Hyundai’s vision for its future as it attempts to evolve from a budget-friendly mainstream automaker to a top global luxury EV maker. The first two models in the Ioniq brand -- the Ioniq 5 SUV and Ioniq 6 -- showcase eye-catching silhouettes and sleek, luxurious interiors trimmed with sustainable materials.
The N brand was created in 2016 to establish real performance credentials for Hyundai. The N stands for Germany’s famed racetrack in Nürburgring, where Hyundai's Technical Center tests its N models. It was an unusual strategy for a mainstream brand to go head-to-head with cars from BMW M, Mercedes AMG, Audi RS and Cadillac V-series, but Hyundai is now making clear its aspirations to go upscale and compete in the luxury segment.
True N cars serve as low-volume halo vehicles. Hyundai declined to say how many Ioniq 5 Ns it will build.