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Frankfurt show: Hyundai to electrify N models

Charged up: While the i30 N (left) uses an internal combustion turbocharged petrol engine, future N cars could come with some form of electrification.

Hyundai says future N performance models are likely to be electrified

Hyundai logo13 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in FRANKFURT

HYUNDAI’S fledgling N performance sub-brand looks set to produce electrified models in the coming years as the company boosts its alternative powertrain offerings across its range.

The Korean car-maker will kick off the rollout of its N models with the i30 N hot hatch that was the star of the Hyundai stand at the Frankfurt motor show this week.

Revealed in July, the i30 N will be offered with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in two states of tune – 184kW/353Nm for the standard i30 version and 202kW/353Nm for the i30 N Performance.

Hyundai Motor Company executive vice-president and head of vehicle test and high-performance development Albert Biermann said the company’s range of electric powertrains had meant the electrification of its high-performance models was a logical step.

“We have everything in-house – hybrid, plug-in hybrid, EV and even fuel cell, like nobody else has right now,” Mr Biermann told Australian journalists at the show. “The technology is available, so when the time has come we are ready to go.”

When pressed by GoAuto on whether an electrified N model was likely, Mr Biermann said: “It is a matter of time. But it will happen and we will be ready.”

Pushed again on electrified performance cars, Mr Biermann added: “I mean like hybrid, plug-in hybrid, these sort of things. Sooner or later we have to provide cars like this depending on regulations and customer request. As long as it serves … fun to drive then why not.”

A future electrified N car would be a rival for the likes of Volkswagen’s Golf GTE plug-in hybrid variant that is marketed as a sporty hatch.

 center imageLeft: Hyundai Motor Company executive vice-president and head of vehicle test and high-performance development Albert Biermann

Mr Biermann, who is a former chief engineer of BMW’s M performance division, acknowledged that internal combustion engines would be offered in N models for longer than other model lines given performance car buyers’ preference for a more traditional powertrain.

“Right now I think so, but that does not mean we would not jump into electrification in a decent amount of time,” he said.

“Of course, a combustion engine has some fascination that is hard to just take away. I think the high-performance customer, they appreciate a lot of the emotion coming from the engine, from the transmission shifting, all of these things.”

Hyundai confirmed that there would be a further two N models coming soon, and while Mr Biermann did not elaborate, GoAuto understands they will include an N version of the i30 Fastback as well as the next-generation Veloster.

The Veloster is expected to be revealed next year, possibly at the Detroit motor show, while the i30 Fastback was revealed in July.

While the next-generation Veloster is all but guaranteed to make it to Australia given the sales success of the current model, Hyundai Motor Co Australia is only looking to import the N version of the i30 Fastback.

Hyundai also announced more details of its electrification strategy in Frankfurt this week, confirming it will offer 15 ‘eco’ models – including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, full EV or hydrogen fuel cell – by 2020.

Of this number, four will be full EVs, and one of them will be a fully electric version of the new Kona compact SUV which is confirmed to be revealed at next year’s Geneva motor show.

Finally, Hyundai executives also announced that the company would release five new SUV models in the next two years. While some models are known – the Kona and next-generation Santa Fe – the remaining three are a mystery.

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