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Hyundai could have Oz’s cheapest EV by 2025

Pint-sized electric SUV could slot into local line-up as alternative to entry-level Venue

3 Apr 2023

HYUNDAI could be poised to take control of the title of "Australia's most affordable EV" by the end of next year, as the company confirms aspirations to roll out a slew of electrified SUV product between now and the end of 2024.


Some product that forms part of that plan is already well known, such as the Kona Hybrid and Kona Electric that will be landing later in 2023, and the Ioniq 7 large SUV wagon that will cap off the brand's fledgling Ioniq family.


Others are a little hazier…


It's understood that the Tucson Hybrid is on its way to provide Hyundai Motor Co Australia (HMCA) with an antidote to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Nissan X-Trail e-Power, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Haval H6 Hybrid, but it's what the company has planned for the entry-level light SUV segment that is most intriguing.


The Venue is HMCA’s sole representative in the lowest end of the SUV market, however a hybrid or pure-electric version of that car is not available globally – nor is one expected to materialise. However, it’s not the only option that’s within HMCA’s grasp.


“There’s not an electrified option for that car… but there are electrified ideas for that segment,” HMCA chief operating officer John Kett told GoAuto.


“We can’t be the company we want to be unless we solve light SUV electrification. Now while the role that Venue will play in that segment will be very important to us, ultimately over time it needs a brother or sister in that segment that demonstrates the aspirations of this company.”


As to whether that brother or sister would be fully electric or a mere hybrid, Mr Kett wouldn’t elaborate, however speculation in South Korean media says that an all-electric version of the Casper light crossover – which boasts quasi-SUV design cues and a boxy aesthetic – is due to launch in Hyundai’s home market next year.


An Australian arrival seems like a logical next-move to fill that ‘electrified light SUV’ requirement, especially as HMCA recently filed a trademark application for the Casper name in Australia, yet remains committed to the Venue in its present form.


Rumours published by South Korean outlet Pulse claim the all-electric Casper will offer ‘up to’ 400km of range and be priced to compete with Chevrolet’s Bolt, which is sold in that market for the equivalent of AU$50,500 before subsidies, or $30,000 after Korean government incentives are applied.


Given the size differential between the tiny Casper, which measures just 3.6m long and weighs less than a tonne with a combustion engine, and the 4.1-metre Bolt, Hyundai’s compact EV should realistically cost less than the Bolt and be able to deliver similar range while using a smaller battery than the Bolt’s 66kWh unit.


If Hyundai can minimise the size of the battery – or offers a high/low battery option – then production cost could be trimmed dramatically to give the Casper a significant edge over other EV hatches like the Bolt, Nissan’s Leaf and the upcoming BYD Dolphin. 


With the Dolphin nearly half a metre longer than the Casper, once again the Hyundai’s diminutive size and weight may afford it a cost advantage when it comes to battery sizing.


Nevertheless, the Dolphin will likely be the Casper EV’s core competitor, with the Chinese hatchback (which is sized closer to the Bolt than the Casper), set to arrive in Australia before mid-2023 wearing a sub-$40K price tag.


Local specifications and final pricing are yet to be confirmed, however, in the Chinese market the Dolphin makes use of a 30.7kWh battery in low-spec form, good for 300km of range, or a 44.9kWh battery in higher-spec cars that delivers up to 405km.


However, a dark horse could arrive in the form of the Mitsubishi ek X EV. Mitsubishi’s sole all-electric offering is only sold in Japan and measures slightly shorter and narrower than the Casper, and its 20kWh battery pack only supplies enough energy for a range claim of 180km.


In its home market it retails for the equivalent of AU$33,000 in its highest-grade form, or around AU$27,000 in a more austere configuration.


Mitsubishi Australia is understood to be investigating its viability for this market, which could give HMCA’s product planners something to chew on when it comes to ratcheting down a headline-grabbing price tag.

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