HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) will reveal the successor to its Accent light car early next year with several scenarios in the mix including the importation of the next-generation hatch out of Mexico, a switch to an as-yet still-secret sub-Kona small SUV and even the eventual return of the European-focused i20.
It is understood that the company may be awaiting final confirmation of a right-hand-drive version of the latest, HC-series Accent that was launched globally last year, and ideally it would be sold alongside the baby crossover due to the growing popularity of small SUVs. Reports suggest the latter may be a variation of the upcoming Hyundai Carlino set to be unveiled internationally in the near future.
According to HMCA chief operating officer Scott Grant, a combination of all three may be possible.
“We’ll have something to announce on that in early 2019,” Mr Grant told GoAuto at the launch of the Ioniq hybrid and electric small car range in Brisbane this week. “We are still considering a couple of options so that’s why I can’t confirm one way or another.
“It’s more than likely that there will be some announcement (in early 2019) on a small SUV – it just makes sense. But does that replace what Accent is doing, or does Accent continue on as well, in a different body form? We have to decide.
“Do the two of those work together? Does the sub-Kona global SUV come to Australia and we discontinue Accent? Does that not come to Australia and we stick with Accent? Or do we have both? These are the kind of combinations we are looking at.”
Given that the Accent has been sold in one form or another in Australia since the marque surfaced in 1986 with the original X1 Excel, the venerable light hatch is unlikely to disappear any time soon.
“The company is investing in a new Accent, so we’ve got options as to whether we take it,” Mr Grant said. “And the company will more than likely make an announcement with the expansion into a smaller SUV. Hyundai won’t move away from its roots.”
Also dubbed the QXi and Styx, the sub-Kona/Carlino baby SUV is believed to come in at under four metres long, will be front-wheel drive-only and offer a 1.0-litre direct-injection three-cylinder turbo engine and possibly a dual-clutch automatic transmission as powertrain options.
The latter suggests that this will be a more advanced vehicle than the slightly-larger Hyundai Creta small SUV, which was released about four years ago as primarily a price-leading emerging-market foothold proposition for the brand. HMCA rejected the Creta as it did not offer sufficient safety tech for Australia.
Meanwhile, though the i20’s sophistication and technology make it an appealing option, it is the least likely candidate for Australia owing to the expense of sourcing it from Turkey in the necessary advanced specification required for this market.
“i20 is something that we study off and on, and we’ve looked at it closely before,” Mr Grant said. “But, for our spec in terms of safety and technology as available out of Europe, with currency and those kinds of things, it is a little bit complicated to land it at an effective price point. It’s a matter of whether it makes sense for us.”
He added that there are sufficient stocks of the existing RB-series Accent, launched in Australia during 2011, to see the light car through to 2020.
“We will have sufficient production to support a full year of sales next year of Accent, so we don’t see any risk to volume or that market segment through 2019,” Mr Grant revealed. “Beyond that, it becomes a matter of some further study and we have to decide what we do with Accent. New Accent will be produced globally, but in different markets in different configurations.”
This year, the Accent remains the best-selling light car in Australia despite its age on 13,290 new registrations to the end of October for 21.6 per cent share of the segment, comfortably leading the second-placed Mazda2 (9186 units).