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Hyundai Tucson Hybrid still a chance for Australia

Hyundai says it’s still evaluating Tucson Hybrid for our market, despite cost hurdles

13 May 2021

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) says it hasn’t given up on selling a hybrid version of the new-generation Tucson, despite ongoing cost and sourcing issues.


In an interview with GoAuto HMCA coordinating director of product planning Scott Yoon confirmed that Tucson Hybrid remains on the radar for Australia, though a decision is yet to be made on how or when that could materialise.


“The door has not been completely closed yet (on Tucson Hybrid reaching Australia),” said Mr Yoon, “but we do see an uphill challenge”.


Sourcing from Hyundai’s Czech plant – the only facility currently building right-hand-drive Tucson Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid – presents HMCA with a potentially prohibitive exchange rate, yet Mr Yoon confirmed “it was nearly impossible to justify right-hand-drive (Tucson Hybrid) development out of Ulsan (South Korea).”


“We were only able to offer a couple of thousand (potential Tucson Hybrid sales from Ulsan) … and the mother company had already invested so much in putting a right-hand-drive variant into production (in the Czech Republic), given that a large chunk of Tucson right-hand-drive volume will come from Europe. And that’s when the numbers really don’t start stacking up,” he said.


There’s also the issue of Hyundai’s positioning in our market.


“Globally, when we look at pricing of vehicles in general, in Australia the pricing has changed. Maybe since the second half of 2019 there’s been this general upward trend, but Australia remains on the lower global range in terms of the actual price the customer pays,” said Mr Yoon.


Taking spec into account, “compared to North America, and especially Europe, the list price that we see here is slightly lower than the group, which presents its own challenges for trying to justify a business case (for Tucson Hybrid).


“I mean, we haven’t closed the door yet. We do have some information and we’re trying to see if it can align but again, it’s not the most ideal situation.


“We have the product, but (Tucson Hybrid needs to be) at a price point that customers will willingly spend their money on,” said Mr Yoon.


“We’re trying to find a smart way to do that.”


In addition, the Czech factory builds a slightly smaller Euro-sized version of the Tucson – 130mm shorter overall, riding on a 75mm-shorter wheelbase – which means that even if Tucson Hybrid does make it here, it won’t directly align with our larger Korean-built line-up.


Given that Toyota currently dominates the medium SUV segment with its big-selling RAV4 Hybrid, however, Australia’s fourth most popular brand appears committed to finding a solution for offering Tucson Hybrid – especially if customers demand it.


Speaking to GoAuto last December, HMCA general manager product planning Andrew Tuitahi said that hybridisation of Hyundai’s model range will be inevitable moving forward.


“Every model is on the table for a future hybrid and we’re looking at what we can do,” he said.


So far in 2021, the medium SUV segment has achieved an 18.0 per cent share of the total market, making it the biggest category in the country.


Of that entire segment (including premium medium SUVs), the Toyota RAV4 has been the dominant force, accounting for 21.6 per cent of total sales.


Of those, an overwhelming 81 per cent have been equipped with the hybrid powertrain.


In comparison, the outgoing TL Tucson has accounted for a comparatively small 5.6 per cent share year-to-date.

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