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Future models - Hyundai - i20

Hyundai Getz set for retirement

Coming soon: The Indian-made Hyundai i20 is set to mount its light-car-market challenge from April as the Getz faces the end of the line.

Bye-bye to Hyundai top-seller in 2011 as new i20 warms up in the wings

Hyundai logo15 Feb 2010

By JAMES STANFORD

HYUNDAI Australia will be forced to kiss goodbye the best-selling light car in Australia next year.

The company is preparing for Hyundai in South Korea to stop production of the light car it sells for just $12,990 drive away. According to VFACTS, Hyundai sold 19,643 Getz hatchbacks in 2009, representing slightly less than a third of its sales.

In preparation for the phase out of the Getz, Hyundai Australia will introduce the Indian-made i20 light car this April.

The i20 is slightly larger than the Getz and will also be more expensive, with a tipped starting price of about $15,000, meaning it will be compared with Japanese cars such as the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris.

Hyundai Australia has the option of also importing the i10, a sub-light car smaller than the Getz, but could also walk away from its super-sharp Getz price point.

Company chief executive Edward Lee this week indicated that Hyundai might be prepared to install the i20 as its entry level model.

"Price point is very important, but we are focused on the brand and try and put a lot of effort into the brand," he said.

"For example, the i20 has a lot of value, it is five-star NCAP ... we will make a good package and very competitive pricing. I don't see any problem with that."

1 center imageLeft: i20, Getz and Genesis.

Mr Lee said customers would be likely to come around to the i20 even at a higher price.

"It will just move up a little bit, but for the quality and everything we are very competitive, so even if we discontinue Getz, I don't worry much about it," he said.

Asked if Hyundai was prepared to walk away from the $15,000 price point, Mr Lee said: "We do not unveil the pricing for i20 yet, but it will be close to that.

"Sometimes we will lose the price point, but it terms of value for money we always think 10 per cent more (features) than other competitors," he said.

Mr Lee said Hyundai would focus less on the Getz and more on the i20 when it arrives.

"We are trying to have a soft landing with i20, probably from (the) second half (of this year) we will try to put more focus on i20 and from next year I think completely i20 will replace the Getz," he said.

Mr Lee left open the prospect of another model to fill the gap below the i20, indicating the i10 might be considered as long as the business case stacked up.

He added that the company would first make sure it properly introduced the ix35 compact SUV, which was launched in Australia last week, the i20 and the Sonata replacement.

"The i10, there is a lot of request from the dealers, but as you know we have three new models and we have to make them successful first," he said.

The Sonata replacement, which is currently known only as YF, is due to arrive in Australian showrooms mid year.

It is almost certain to ditch the Sonata tag for an 'i' based name which Hyundai Australia is yet to confirm.

While the mid-sized YF is an important model for Hyundai Australia in terms of volume, another model that is more about image is getting closer to local showrooms.

Hyundai is likely to confirm that the rear-drive Genesis coupe, already on sale in the US and about to go into Europe, will be built in right-hand drive, which would enable Hyundai Australia to import the sports coupe. Nothing has been confirmed yet.

Hyundai Australia public relations manager Ben Hershman, said: "We haven't been advised that it has been confirmed in right-hand drive.

"HMC has spoken to all the markets we have given them our feedback." Mr Lee indicated the Genesis coupe would be welcome in Australia, even if it wasn't a huge seller.

"I think that it is a great potential we have," he said.

"Volume is not everything, if it is necessary for the brand we have to bring that one."

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