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Alternate powered Hyundai N models “inevitable” says HMCA head of future business

23 Nov 2021

AS THE popularity of Hyundai’s sporty N and N Line models continues to grow globally – and an increasing number of ‘N’ variants come online – the question surrounding the future of the all-internal-combustion-powered range was one GoAuto thought was well worth asking. 


The Korean manufacturer has already demonstrated keen progress in the hybridisation and electrification of its mainstream line-up, as well as proving its capabilities across hydrogen fuel cell technology with its Nexo SUV.


With the brand committing to a hydrogen fuel cell version of each model in its range by 2028 – including a 500kW sportscar with 600km of range it is co-developing with Rimac – the possibility of an alternate powered N range is one that may be closer than we might think, even “inevitable”, Hyundai says.


Speaking to GoAuto at the recent launch of the i20 N and Kona N, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) head of product and future business group Andrew Tuitahi said the brand understands that in order to continue offering performance models in markets with tightening emissions standards, it would need to investigate the use of alternative driveline technologies if it is to have a future.


“The biggest markets for performance cars – the markets that love performance cars – are the markets that have strict emissions regulations. Cars like the i20 N, i30 N, and Kona N make it harder for those guys to hit their emissions targets, and so some form of electrification or alternate powertrain will soon be required,” Mr Tuitahi explained.


“It’s inevitable. It’s going to have to happen in order to see the kind of performance and fun that we attribute to our N products continue, but it’s really tough at the moment to say which of the technologies available to us will lead the charge, so to speak.”


When asked if a hydrogen-powered N car was a possibility, Mr Tuitahi said that it was “technically possible”, but suggested that no firm decision had yet been made on which alternate power source was preferred. 


He said that development engineers had a range of “projects” in progress, and that the next few years were certain to reveal a fundamental shift in the kinds or performance models available to Hyundai buyers.


“We’re kind of blessed in our group (Hyundai-Kia) to have so many options available that could make their way into a N product. We can scale from mild hybrid tech, through to conventional hybrid tech, to plug-in hybrid and full electric, and yes, even hydrogen. Any of those things are possible, and almost all of them would work in an N car,” he said.


“Of course, I can’t be explicit about what the next N car would feature under the bonnet, but it’s definitely going to happen – and I think that’s pretty exciting.”


Before then, Hyundai will continue to ramp up the number of N and N Line models offered in its range, with Mr Tuitahi suggesting nothing is off the table. The i20 N and Kona N will be joined next month by the i30 Sedan N, the Kona also receiving a sporty N Line makeover in recent weeks.


GoAuto asked Mr Tuitahi if other SUV models would be considered right for “N-ification” in the same spirit as Kona, and if a Tucson N or Santa Fe N would be considered for markets with a thirst for high-performing family haulers.


“To go down that line with an N product, I mean anything and everything is possible. The guys that are working on our N models are the kind of team that will explore every option. It’s been a case where they’re continually brainstorming different ideas – even some of the ideas we’ve suggested locally – then seeing if there’s a viable business case to be had,” he said.


“If I know those guys, they’ve probably already built something and had a play to see if it’s feasible or not, and while I can’t tell you exactly where we’re going with N from here, I can say that there’s definitely some exciting future N products in the works – and I am crazy excited for it to arrive.”

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