Sorry Elon Musk. Hyundai Is Quietly Dominating the EV Race

Pipe down for a second Elon, the hottest things in the auto industry — the most electric electrics — now come from Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp.

Earlier this year, the South Korean carmakers rolled out two new battery-powered cars — the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its sibling, the Kia EV6 — which promptly tore up the sales charts, passing the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt and every other electric vehicle on the market not made by Tesla. In the US this year through May, Hyundai and Kia sold 21,467 of these two machines, besting even the white-hot Ford Mustang Mach-E, which was snapped up by 15,718 drivers.

“From an EV perspective, they’re really just kind of cleaning the floor,” said Edmunds analyst Joseph Yoon. “I honestly don’t know if any dealers around me have any in stock.”

Tesla still sells far more cars, but it took the company a decade to deliver as many electric vehicles as Hyundai and Kia have managed in a few short months. Even Musk has been impressed.

Granted, Hyundai is no startup. And the design of the current hits started about six years ago, according to Steve Kosowski, manager of long range strategy at Kia America. At the time, the Chevrolet Bolt had just hit the market and Kia considered a car similar in size and scope. Ultimately, Kosowski and company green lit something far larger, sportier and swankier — at a slightly higher price.

“The thinking was, with the platform we have and the market understanding we have, let’s put together a really bold, breakthrough proposition,” he recalls. “We’re going to make a statement that Kia is here.”