Hyundai’s Impressive EVs vs. Toyota’s Lackluster Models: What Sets Them Apart?

Comparing the Genesis GV70 Electrified and Lexus RZ450e: Two Opposing Approaches to Electrification

As I age, my appreciation for Ohio, Indiana, and other states that are often dismissed as “flyover states” has only grown. While places like Bushwick and Orange County may receive all the attention in the media, I find comfort in the quieter life out here. However, I cannot deny the sense of disconnect felt by Midwesterners when we read the news. The viewpoints of those on the coasts do not always align with our own experiences and realities. It’s not that Midwesterners are backward or unenlightened, but rather that our way of life is often overlooked or misunderstood.

Not quite accurate or just; in my opinion, people from the Midwest are mostly inquisitive individuals, but they do have their hesitations and tend to be practical. They have their beliefs: Hyundai cannot produce reliable vehicles, soup is not a substantial meal, and if there’s anyone who can create a top-notch electric car, it would most likely be Toyota.

I comprehend the reasoning behind the viewpoints of Midwesterners. The process of purchasing a Tesla is vastly different from the traditional dealership method we are accustomed to, and the entire driving experience of an electric vehicle appears more complex compared to that of a gas-powered car. However, the practicality and realism often associated with the Midwest may not be receptive towards considering a premium, fully electric Hyundai as a viable option.

During the 1990s, Hyundai produced subpar vehicles, and despite facing numerous recalls for their engines, the Midwest region has become the epicenter of the infamous “Kia Boyz” stealing phenomenon. In contrast, Toyota achieved success with their hybrid models, leading many to believe that they are well-equipped to excel in the field of electric vehicles.

It is logical to the Midwestern mentality, yet it is incorrect. I witnessed this mindset conflicting with actuality when I had two separate electric vehicles within a fortnight: the Genesis GV70 Electrified, and the Lexus RZ 450e.

The initial release was the Genesis GV70 EV. Being a modified gasoline vehicle, it does not utilize the revolutionary E-GMP platform like other electric cars from Hyundai Motor Group. This raised doubts for me about the performance of this 5,000-lb electric SUV. Would it sacrifice efficiency, power, and driving experience for the sake of a rushed conversion to an electric vehicle?

Personally, I was quite fond of the gasoline-fueled GV70 with its impressive 3.3-liter turbo engine. In fact, I often referred to it as a more affordable version of the Porsche Macan, or even compared it to the Mercedes GLE-Class. Naturally, I had concerns that this same captivating essence would be diminished when transitioning to an electric powertrain.

These anxieties proved to be baseless. After careful examination and analysis, it was discovered that these concerns were unnecessary.

In my opinion, the GV70 Electrified stands out as the superior version among all the GV70 variations. Its ride is incredibly smooth and manages to balance superb shock absorption with great driving dynamics. In fact, the driving experience of the GV70 Electrified is just as sharp and engaging as that of the traditional gasoline model.

The GV70 EV also had a luxurious interiorThe GV70 EV proved to be a perfect blend of speed and refinement. Boasting over 400 horsepower, this electric vehicle was reminiscent of its G80 Electrified predecessor, propelling me effortlessly with the finesse of a seasoned maître d’ ushering me to my seat. Rather than a jolting slingshot ride across immense distances, the GV70 EV offered a smooth glide that was both powerful and controlled. And let’s not forget the opulent interior, adding a touch of luxury to the overall experience.

The GV70 Electrified proved to be quite energy-efficient considering its size and vehicle category. It maintained an impressive rate of approximately 3.0 miles per kWh, even while cruising on the highway with the air conditioning running. It effortlessly covered the 205-mile distance from Columbus to Detroit. I was amazed by its performance and couldn’t help but wonder about Genesis’s unique approach; how did they achieve such remarkable results?

When I inquired with the team, Andre Ravinowich, senior product manager of Genesis of America, shared his perspective on the project. He stated, “There’s a lot of work involved in transforming an already exceptional platform into a successful EV.” He further elaborated, “We had to put in a significant amount of effort to modify the baseline car and ensure that it performs well as an EV without compromising its dynamic capabilities, considering that it was initially designed as an ICE model.”

Despite the intended compatibility of electrified powertrains with the GV70’s platform, significant adjustments were still made to accommodate full electrification, according to Ravinowich. The brand took care to revise both front and rear suspension to support the electric motors and added weight of the vehicle. There is a noticeable increase in the use of aluminum in the GV70 Electrified compared to the standard version. Additionally, the incorporation of CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) cross-members has greatly enhanced the structural stability, resulting in the electrified model being approximately 24% sturdier than its gas-powered counterpart. “The focus on luxury and being a top-tier brand has always been a cornerstone of Genesis since its inception,” stated Ravinowich.

Naturally, I had the urge to praise the GV70 Electrified’s qualities to people in my personal circle, not just my acquaintances who are journalists or car enthusiasts. The majority of them were impressed; they all concurred that the GV70 EV was an incredibly appealing vehicle – a David-like, surprise challenger from a brand that is clearly striving to demonstrate its worth.

However, some of my colleagues in Ohio and other Midwestern states were not fully convinced. You see, they were quite taken with the design of the GV70 Electrified. They didn’t even mind that it was an electric vehicle. However, whenever they would inquire about the manufacturer behind the Genesis brand, and I would answer with “Hyundai,” their enthusiasm would quickly dissipate, as if I had just carelessly dropped a large, damp stool on their freshly purchased Jordans.

“Never mind,” they would say. A friend of mine who owned a Tesla (and was looking to upgrade from their old Model S) told me outright that, despite the sleek design of the GV70 EV, they believed Hyundai was lagging behind other brands in terms of electric vehicles and was not yet ready for the big leagues. This opinion seemed to be shared by many others as well.

The desire for a Toyota electric vehicle was rooted in the belief that Toyota is the only brand capable of rivaling Tesla’s dominance.

I was at a loss. The Genesis GV70 EV left me feeling impressed and at a loss for criticism. As a car journalist, it felt like my duty to nitpick and find any imperfections, but the reality was that this electric vehicle was excellently crafted. However, I had to shift my perspective and step into the shoes of the Midwesterners I had just spoken to. The world of electric cars is constantly evolving and can be confusing for the average person. It would be unfair to assume that everyone is familiar with the intricacies of Hyundai’s operations or, more importantly, the actions (or lack thereof) of Toyota.

The week right after experiencing the Genesis GV70 Electrified, I had the opportunity to try out the Lexus RZ 450e. Interestingly, these two vehicles are direct rivals when it comes to specs. They both fall in the price range of around $65,000 and have a similar electric driving range of approximately 200 miles. More specifically, the GV70 has a range of 236 miles, while the RZ 450e can go up to 220 miles with smaller wheels, or 196 miles with larger wheels. Additionally, they are also similar in size.

Surprisingly, the Lexus RZ 450e takes a more comprehensive approach to creating an electric vehicle platform compared to the Genesis. This in itself is an advantage, as it should result in fewer engineering compromises that are typically necessary for a car to accommodate both gasoline and electricity. These benefits should translate into an extended range, improved efficiency, and ultimately, a superior driving experience in comparison to a car that was designed to accommodate both fuel types.

I was taken aback by the underwhelming performance of the RZ 450e. Despite my high expectations, the bike failed to impress.

I began my journey in Detroit, with the goal of driving the majority of the 205-mile route back to Columbus without any breaks. The Genesis had previously made the entire trip with over 45 miles remaining on its charge. As I set off in the GV70 Electrified, it seemed that I was on course to exceed this distance with its estimated range of 236 miles. However, when I entered the Lexus RZ 450e, which was charged to 95%, the display only showed a modest 190-mile range. This number quickly decreased to an estimated 145 miles once I switched on the air conditioning.

“Dude, what is this?” I typed furiously in a text to a friend, attaching a video that showed the RZ 450e’s disappointing drop in range. My frustration was palpable, fueled by the realization that the bike’s limited range had completely derailed my plans. Now, I would have to deviate from my route and search for a DC fast charger, adding a considerable amount of time to my trip. Not exactly the ideal way to start off my experience with this electric motorcycle.

I later inquired with Lexus regarding the concerns about the A/C. According to Laura Finley, a representative from Lexus, “For the RZ, the estimated range is determined by various factors, including the usage of the HVAC system.” She further explained, “When the fan is turned on, it results in increased power consumption, thus causing a decrease in the predicted range. The extent of range reduction when the A/C is activated depends on the temperature and humidity outside, as well as the temperature set by the driver inside the vehicle.” For instance, if the level of humidity remains constant, turning on the A/C at maximum in 60-degree weather may result in a lesser range drop compared to doing the same in 90-degree weather.”

It would appear logical, yet it failed to clarify why the Lexus consumed significantly more energy in comparison to the Genesis. I had never encountered such a considerable reduction in range when utilizing the heat or air conditioning.

As the week went on, I didn’t notice any improvements while driving the Lexus RZ 450e. While it was decently fast and provided a comfortable ride, it lacked the raw power and elegance of the GV70 Electrified. The Lexus only managed to cover 2.7-2.8 miles per kWh, which may seem comparable to Genesis’s 3.0 miles per kWh at first glance. However, in reality, the RZ 450e consumed significantly more energy compared to its rival. Due to its smaller battery size, the Lexus was constantly in need of a charging station.

To make matters worse, the Lexus RZ 450e had a surprisingly subpar AC charging capacity of just 6.6 KW and its DC charging capabilities were equally disappointing, dropping to 150 KW within minutes and eventually falling below double digits. Overall, compared to other vehicles in its class, the RZ 450e’s performance left much to be desired.

According to Dr. Partha Goswami, the Principal of PG Mobility Analysis, Toyota is currently facing a critical moment in their history as they have missed out on capitalizing on strategic opportunities. This can be seen in the construction of their latest vehicle, the Lexus RZ 450e, which deviates from their typically meticulous and well-planned approach. As a result, the car falls below Toyota’s own high standards. This hasty and incomplete work is evident when driving the vehicle, as it feels rushed and unfinished. This highlights the fact that Toyota was in dire need of an entry into the growing market for electric vehicles, and not having a presence in this area would be a mistake. As the saying goes, even if you excel in your studies and always score top marks, neglecting to allocate enough time towards your preparations will inevitably lead to failure.

This was the overwhelming impression left by the RZ 450e: uncoordinated and possibly even disdainful, especially in light of Toyota’s past declarations regarding electric cars in contrast to their focus on hybrid vehicles. It seemed like a rushed attempt to appease critics of Toyota’s anti-EV efforts. “Fine. Here’s your precious EV that you’ve been begging for, now get out of my way.” The car appeared hastily manufactured without much careful thought, and this was evident in its performance.

Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. Toyota has announced that it will be intensifying its efforts in the realm of electrification. This was revealed last autumn when the company unveiled a range of electric car prototypes, featuring potential crowd-pleasers such as an updated version of the MR2 sports car and a compact pickup truck design, inspired by the successful Ford Maverick model. Previously, the Japanese automaker had fallen behind in the EV race compared to its competitors. However, with this recent shift in strategy, Toyota seems determined to make a comeback and establish itself as a major player in the growing electric vehicle market.The concept cars displayed by Toyota are particularly eye-catching, offering a glimpse into the brand’s vision for the future of transportation. The proposed revival of the iconic MR2 in electric form is sure to excite car enthusiasts, while the compact pickup truck concept is designed to appeal to the practical needs of everyday drivers.This move towards electrification is very much in line with consumer demand, as more and more people are looking for environmentally friendly ways to get around. Furthermore, with the success of the Ford Maverick, there is a clear market for small, versatile pickup trucks and Toyota is aiming to capitalize on this trend.It’s not just about keeping up

Toyota has a strong focus on battery development and asserts that its solid-state battery will effortlessly achieve a range of 600 miles. According to Goswami, the company’s traditional approach may have caused them to be slower in this area, as they initially did not prioritize electrification. He also believes that Toyota’s journey towards electrification has faced several mishaps, but he is not ready to dismiss them completely.

While it may hold some truth, based on its current condition, I am unable to recommend the Lexus or Toyota electric vehicles. The people from the Midwest are generally cautious and prioritize value, therefore, I am aware of what they are searching for when they express their desire for an EV from Toyota. They are seeking a car with a range similar to Tesla’s, that is dependable, user-friendly, and offers good value. They want to leave the dealership feeling confident that they have purchased a well-made car at a reasonable price. However, the RZ 450e did not feel like a good investment as it lacked practicality and was priced too high, despite its subjective advantages in terms of interior quality and design. Therefore, I cannot recommend a car that offers such little utility for a steep price.

It was quite challenging to explain it to my fellow Midwesterners. The RZ 450e was met with remarks and inquiries from individuals who were genuinely interested in its practicality. These were people who were seriously considering switching to an electric vehicle. For them, the RZ 450e (and its counterpart, the more affordable Toyota bZ4x) was a formidable option. Toyota had leveraged their expertise in hybrid vehicles to present a significant competition to the Tesla Model Y.

Can you imagine their surprise when I disclosed that the RZ 450e was far from a satisfactory vehicle? It was comparable to telling a child of seven years old that Santa Claus is not a genuine entity. The idea was inconceivable, but as I conveyed the car’s limitations in terms of distance, I could detect their comprehension of how subpar the Lexus RZ truly was. They had been eagerly anticipating a Toyota electric vehicle, yet Toyota had disappointed them deeply.

Potentially, the BZ4X and Lexus RZ 450e models could be seen as mere blunders in Toyota’s attempt at entering the electric vehicle market. However, there is still a chance that Toyota will follow through on their promises regarding EVs, ultimately proving skeptics from the Midwest wrong and solidifying themselves as the dominant force in EVs, similar to how they reign supreme in the realm of hybrid vehicles.

Although it may not last indefinitely, Hyundai appears to be the frontrunner in the world of electric vehicles. The ball is now in the court of the Korean company as they must persuade Ohioans that this is indeed true.

Get in touch with the writer at: kevin.williams@insideevs.comReaching out to the author has never been easier! You can contact them directly via email at kevin.williams@insideevs.com.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Excellent work putting this together! I question what AI will do in this area over the next five years.

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