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Hyundai i20 no closer to local launch

Weighing up: The European-built i20 is still being evaluated for the Australian market, but the current-gen model is still kicking goals for Hyundai on the sales charts.

Currency issues at the heart of i20 light-car no-show for Hyundai


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4 Nov 2014

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is still no closer to confirming the arrival of the i20 compact car, despite “ongoing” work to secure the new-generation model for a local launch.

The Korean car-maker's local arm has been working on a business case to import the European-spec version of the i20 that made its debut at the Paris motor show last month, but currency issues against the Australian dollar are causing headaches for HMCA.

While there is an Indian-built version of the city runabout, the company is believed to favour the Turkish-sourced version as it is better suited to the Australian market.

HMCA chief operating officer John Elsworth told media this week that as well as currency problems, the Korean brand also faces “logistic” issues in importing the new-gen hatchback.

“It's still a very challenging business price because of the origin of the vehicle is from Europe, so we're dealing with a currency that's not playing ball at the minute,” he said.

“There's also some logistic issues we're going to sort out but ... so there's still no word on where we head.”

With unfavourable Euro currency trading conditions against the Australian dollar increasing the i20's unit price, Mr Elsworth was less than buoyant about it arriving any time soon.

“No, it's just ongoing. I don't think we put a final date on it yet,” he said.

Mr Elsworth was, however, keen to reiterate that the i20 is a necessary element to the local product mix.

“Hyundai is famous for small cars. It's how the brand started, so we're a logical choice for consumers who are considering a small car or a light car.

“Ultimately we want a car in every segment. That's not necessarily realistic, but I think a brand like Hyundai really needs a car like that in the market.

It's all we're famous for.”

Hyundai's light-car line-up in Australia consists of the current i20 as well as the Accent hatch and sedan from South Korea which is priced slightly higher than the i20.

If Hyundai cannot make a business case for the Turkish-built i20 stack up, it is unclear whether the company will turn to India for sourcing or whether the Accent will become the sole light-car offering.

The first-generation i20 arrived Down Under in July 2010, before a mid-life facelift brought it into line with the styling of Hyundai's other models, including its i30 sibling, in June 2012.

After being beaten in the light-car sales race last year by the Mazda2 and the Toyota Yaris, the i20 has rebounded this year in the face of ageing competition to be the top-selling city hatch in Australia, with 11,285 units shifted to the end of September compared with 10,143 Mazda2s in the same period.

Hyundai has already confirmed production of a three-door coupe-like version of the i20, which is likely to surface early next year.

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