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Hyundai ‘not panicking’ about ute

Australian Hyundai execs would love to have a ute in the range but plead for patience

3 Jul 2023

HYUNDAI Australia’s top brass insists the brand is not panicking about being so far behind on the launch of its potential new ute model.


John Kett, chief operating officer for Hyundai Australia, told media at the launch of the new Kona small SUV that while he did not want to talk about a ute product line for the brand, he understands it is one of the largest gaps in its range.


Mr Kett was asked specifically about sibling brand Kia’s recently revealed plans for a new dual-cab ute range – rumoured to be named Tasman – which is due to land within 24-36 months.


“When that’s all announced … then we will have to think our way though. Just give us a chance to work our way through it,” said Mr Kett. “We just work our way through. We’re not panicking about it.


“We see things immediately, we see what we're in the programs (for), and the corporation is talking about things they haven't even told us about,” he said, seemingly suggesting that Kia Australia may have let the cat out of the bag before it was supposed to – or that Hyundai Motor Group’s recent mention of a new electric platform suitable for pick-up trucks had been unexpected.


Mr Kett said that the company is aware that a ute would be an important part of the model range, should it come to pass. 


Although it is official that Hyundai’s next-generation battery electric vehicle architecture will spawn a pick-up truck model, local spokespeople at the Kona event would not be drawn on whether the new IMA platform would result in an electric Hyundai ute, nor whether if Hyundai will follow Kia in offering a diesel-powered dual-cab utility Down Under. 


Mr Kett was eager to point out that the brand – which hovers around third, fourth or fifth place in terms of sales in Australia – is still doing very well considering the biggest brand in Australia, Toyota, scores nearly a quarter of its annual sales from its HiLux ute range.


“We believe that the Hyundai portfolio as it is, the investment they're making; we've got to believe that even today, ignoring us (not) having a ute today, that we can be number three in the market without a ute – you've got to believe… Let's keep trying to focus on that.”


Mr Kett suggested that, if a ute were confirmed for the brand, it would not necessarily be a blockbuster sales hit, saying “it will be an incremental gain for us”.


That lends to the idea of it possibly being an electric-only ute and would possibly leave Kia’s new pick-up – which will be diesel-powered first and foremost – as the big-ticket item in Australia for the broader group.


“Some of you guys (in the media) tell me more about their (plans than they do),” he said. “They’re an incredible group, but we’ve just got to focus on our own brand.”


Hyundai’s Australian sales in 2023 have been solid, up 0.2 percent year on year, with the brand placing third for sales in May, behind Toyota and Mazda.


So far for 2023, Hyundai’s ranking is not quite as good, with the company’s 29,492 registrations seeing it slip back to fifth spot behind Ford (30,429), Kia (31,609), Mazda (40,718) and Toyota (71,287).

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