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Hyundai reloads for 2020 with product offensive

Big boost: Models such as the just-released Venue (left) and upcoming Palisade (below) could help Hyundai grow its sales in 2020.

Raft of new models to help spur future Hyundai sales after sluggish 2019

25 Sep 2019

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is hopeful a stream of new product can help stimulate positive sales growth, after an 8.9 per cent decline through the first eight months of 2019.


Factors such as an overall decline across the new-vehicle market – an 8.0 per cent dip overall – as well as disappointing sales performances for new entrants such as the Santa Fe and the retirement of the volume-selling Accent light car have all contributed to Hyundai’s lacklustre 2019, however new products are on the way to stimulate the South Korean brand’s portfolio.


In the past fortnight, HMCA has launched the all-new Venue small SUV and Veloster sportscar, of which the former is expected to partially take over the Accent’s role in the line-up but is not expected to achieve the circa-15,000 yearly sales achieved by the value-focused Accent.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the second-generation Veloster, HMCA senior manager of product planning Andrew Tuitahi said a number of new models are around the corner for Hyundai, starting with the Ioniq range of electrified sedans, which are set for an imminent update despite arriving locally late last year.


“(It’s arriving) really, really soon,” he said. “We’re down to whether cars have gotten on boats or not.


“It’s a pretty cool update. The changes are much bigger than they would appear at first glance, and driving especially the electric variant, you can certainly feel a lot of the enhancements made to that car – additional power, range especially and the new dash tablet configuration is nice as well.”


Mr Tuitahi said that the battery-electric version has been the most popular Ioniq variant since launch, accounting for about two-thirds of total sales, and has been surprised by the popularity of the brand’s electrified models with private buyers.


“Customers are buying the car both as government and fleet buyers, and as private buyers,” he said.


“Some of the people in our business have been a little bit surprised at the number of private buyers willing to come in and buy the fully electric car, but I think as a mainstream brand bringing that kind of range and technology to market, I think we’re really lucky with our timing.”


Also arriving before the end of the year will be a new engine variant for the Santa Fe seven-seat large SUV, which has failed to meet sales expectations since launching in mid-2018.


Offered at launch only with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, a petrol V6 will be reintroduced to the range, either a 3.3- or 3.5-litre unit, the latter of which produces 206kW/336Nm under the bonnet of the mechanically related Kia Sorento.


At the time of launch, HMCA was hopeful of a 50 per cent lift in Santa Fe sales, but year-to-date numbers have instead dipped by 17.3 per cent.


Mr Tuitahi said another way to help spur large-SUV sales would be to introduce a larger, complementary model to the segment, in the form of the eight-seat Palisade which GoAuto has reported is roughly an 80 per cent chance to be offered in Australia, with a likely arrival in 2020.


The all-new Sonata mid-size sedan is also due to touch down in Australia soon following its reveal in March, with a likely release date sometime in early 2020.


The Sonata is available for release now, however HMCA is waiting on certain specification features to come to market before offering it locally, in particular specification that would appeal to fleet customers.


“We’re looking at the best opportunity to bring that to market with many considerations in place in terms of the powertrains on offer, timing of some new features and specs that we’re anticipating, we’re also talking to some potential buyers like the police, trying to understand what their requirements are,” Mr Tuitahi said.


He also suggested that the new Sonata will move to a more premium space compared to the predecessor, while the Hybrid version revealed overseas is still being assessed for Australia.


The volume-selling i30 small car is also due for an update – possibly in 2020 – and can be expected to gain the same safety upgrades afforded to the Kona small SUV as well as styling and other spec updates.


One new model not set for arrival in Australia is the sporty Tucson N Line variant revealed in March, which is only being produced for Europe and is not available from Hyundai’s South Korean plant, where HMCA sources its vehicles.


Mr Tuitahi said he was keen to see the N Line trim on as many models as possible, but it would have to wait for the new generation in the case of the Tucson.


HMCA COO John Kett said the brand expected a fairly slow end to 2019 with the removal of the Accent but was excited by the breadth of new product around the corner.


“We’ve got some work to do just in terms of how to offset that volume with how we exit this year, so hopefully we’re there or there about,” he said.


“And then hopefully we get a huge product launch towards the end of next year. Whether it comes in early enough for us to grow volume or not, we’ll know better once we firm up some of those dates. But predicting that’s a tough one.”


Mr Tuitahi added that the brand has the opportunity to grow in segments both that have mass-market volume potential as well as with more niche products like the Velsoter and Ioniq.


“For 2020, definitely products that will bolster our volumes. I can’t talk explicitly about any of them at the moment, but there are a few cars in there that are more mass-market. If we can bring Palisade in, then that would be a good example, but there are also some vehicles that will be a little more niche and will just provide us with some good brand story and mild amount of volume, kind of like what we’ve done with Veloster.”

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