Hyundai wasn’t the first to try it – witness Ford’s major e-reservation process late last year for the Mustang Mach-E – but it certainly managed to achieve an effective vehicle launch in the midst of a worldwide health scare. This week’s unveiling of the 2021 Elantra compact and electric Elantra Hybrid took place at the end of a wire, the introduction broadcast live from The Lot Studios in West Hollywood, California. Brian Smith, COO of Hyundai North America, struck something of a defiant tone at the event, noting proudly that the South Korean giant isn’t giving up on traditional passengers cars the same way domestic manufacturers seem to be, but instead is offering a traditionally packaged compact with both gasoline and electric-hybrid powertrains.
Hyundai, of all companies, is embracing the “four-door coupe” nomenclature favored by premium German sedan builders in describing the new Elantra. It has a longer wheelbase, wider track, and lower overall height than the previous-generation car. It’s the first time hybrid power has been offered in the Elantra line, which offers a claimed combined fuel economy of more than 50 MPG. The Elantra will have an optional smartphone-linked Digital Key; connectivity is via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with voice-recognition capabilities. The Elantra is a marked, if not immediately recognized, sales success for Hyundai, with 3.4 million sold so far in the United States, and more than 13.8 million worldwide. Production for the U.S. market gets underway in the fall at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, outside Montgomery.