Will Reduced Prices Sell Electric Cars? – San Francisco Bay Times

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By Philip Ruth–

The right-sizing of the electric car market continues unabated. 

Ambitious manufacturer goals of converting their fleets to electricity are running head-on into buyer antipathy. This was summed up by my sending a photo of one of this month’s electrics to a friend who’d just bought a Jaguar gasser: “It’s neat, but I’m not trading five minutes of refueling for 45 minutes of charging.”

Ford, Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda … the list goes on of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) realizing the demand isn’t there to meet their previously lofty plans. First adopters have adopted, and Tesla buyers are gonna Tesla. What’s left is the mushy middle that seems stuck in wait-and-see mode, and these are the buyers both cars this month hope to attract. 

It’s not for want of compelling choices. Take the Hyundai Ioniq 6, which won Car and Driver’s EV of the year—an award the previous year went to the Ioniq 5. They’re based on Hyundai’s E-GMP platform, and both Ioniqs are indeed thoroughly impressive and well-rounded. 

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Go nuts with options in the top Limited trim, and you’ll crest $57,000. But as of this writing, there’s $7,500 off that price on 2023 models. For 2024, Hyundai has reduced prices to where the base SE Standard Range comes in below $39,000. The company is clearly focused on getting meat in the seats. 

The RZ 450e is the first electric car from Lexus, and it shares its e-TNGA platform with the Toyota bZ4X. RZ trims range between $58,500–64,000, and Lexus is sweetening the pot on 2023 models with a $15,000 cash incentive for leases. Hyundai and Lexus would love to sell these for full prices, but they’re wisely following buyers’ ideas of the actual worth of these vehicles. 

Both came in their most powerful all-wheel drive trims—320 horsepower for the Hyundai and 308 horses for the Lexus—and both were as quick as anyone would need a car to be. Thrust rolls out smoothly and silently. Handling leans sporty in the Hyundai, and Sport mode further sharpens the response to where it’s quite a fun car to drive.

Lexus RZ 450e

Predictably, the Lexus emphasizes a posh feel. As with its bZ4X platform-mate, I wished for more communicative steering, but this was balanced by the RZ’s exceptionally compliant ride. I came to see it as a pleasing little cream puff, as it smoothed out the ruts and kept body motions in check. 

Special mention goes to the Ioniq 6’s styling inside and out. When I parked in Hayes Valley in search of Sunday brunch, I got out to meet eyes with a dog walker who was fixed in place as she silently stared at the Ioniq 6’s charming curves and contours. Later, when I drove a fellow bruncher home, he got in and said, “Whoa. Wow. Whoa,” as his eyes landed on the scooped-out door panels, the beam-like console, and the expansive sunroof overhead. 

Price reductions might get buyers off gas and into either of these electrics. We shall see. 

Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant with an automotive staging service.

Published on November 16, 2023

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