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Hyundai Accent to die, i20 may make comeback

Foreign Accent: The new-gen Accent is unlikely to come to Australia due to issues around sourcing.

i20 may usurp Hyundai Accent as latter’s successor switches to LHD only

Hyundai logo13 Oct 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HYUNDAI has revealed that the i20 is back under consideration for a possible return to Australia to replace the Accent, after being denied entry due to the second-generation version’s expensive European sourcing and advanced specification.

While those constraints still apply, it appears that Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) might be close to negotiating a deal that would see the Turkish-built supermini replace the ageing Accent, which has been price competitive in recent years due to its South Korean sourcing.

However, the next-generation Accent will not be built in South Korea and instead will be produced in Mexico, Russia and India, with no plans for a right-hand-drive version, meaning that the current model, which remains in production for the time being at the Ulsan plant near Seoul, is not long for this world.

While no decision has been announced, HMCA chief executive officer, JW Lee, underlined the importance of a car like the i20 in Australia’s sub-$20,000 bracket, hinting that the latest i20 (released in Europe in 2014) may return to take on other European light hatches such as the Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio from about $16,000.

He also mentioned India and even China as potential sources of B-segment light cars, although the former currently does not produce a supermini with sufficient safety tech for Australia while the latter would probably not occur for some time yet as there is no suitable hatch on offer.

“We are studying several options, such as the i20 from Turkey, and even exploring some cars out of China,” Mr Lee revealed. “It is yet to be decided.

But in the 16K to 17K price range, we need to cater to customers, so we are seriously considering to bring several options.

“The international Accent has already started to be manufactured in Mexico, Russia and India but not Korea.

“Capacity for production is a problem. The Korean plant does not have enough to build the new Accent the Ulsan plant number one also produces the Kona, and so it cannot cater for both another problem is price – it is too expensive to import from Mexico, it is not possible from Russia, and India has safety-spec related issues.

“And in order to cater to Australian standards, the Indian plant has to develop safety features specifically for Australia, and subsequently it would cost us too much.

“But we are exploring other options as to how to cater our customers.” The current Accent dominates the light-car segment with more than 22 per cent market share year-to-date, compared with the second-placed Mazda2’s 16 per cent stake.

The current i20 was launched in Australia in June 2010, two years after its global release, and received a facelift in mid-2012. By 2014 it became the country’s best-selling light car.

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