Hyundai is tipped to introduce a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid competitor – and a pint-sized electric car – in Australia in a plan to roll out hybrid and electric power across its SUV range over the next 18 months.
UPDATE, 3 July 2023: Hyundai Australia has confirmed the 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid is due in local showrooms sometime in the first half of next year – pending any delays.
Hyundai Australia boss John Kett confirmed the Hyundai Tucson would get the option of hybrid power next year, but stopped short of forecasting how quickly the petrol-electric variant would close the sales gap to the top-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
«Other than announcing today that we’re going to have one (a Hyundai Tucson Hybrid) in the first half of next year … we haven’t got the pricing and supply (numbers) yet.
«As for our aspiration of what we want to achieve (in terms of sales) I don’t think you’d have to be working inside (the company) to work out what we would like to do (close the sales gap to the Toyota RAV4).
«What I’m conscious of when I look at that hybrid opportunity is that … it has been a super contributor (to sales growth in the market).»
The introduction of the hybrid may coincide with a mid-life facelift for the Tucson range, which has been photographed testing in Europe ahead of Australian arrivals anticipated next year.
29 March 2023: The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid mid-size family SUV may finally be coming to Australia – alongside the upcoming electric version of the Hyundai Casper city car – by the end of next year.
Hyundai Australia Direct to Consumer division boss Andrew Stamatakis told Australian media at the launch of the Ioniq 6 electric car this week «Hyundai will have an electrified model in every SUV segment we operate in by the end of next year.»
Drive understands there are two gaps left to be filled: a ‘light SUV’ in the same category as the current Venue, and a traditional mid-size SUV (as the Ioniq 5 is considered more of a ‘crossover’, or inflated hatchback than a true SUV).
It is understood a hybrid version of the Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV is planned to fill the latter gap – while the Venue-sized vehicle is expected to be the electric version of South Korea’s Hyundai Casper city car.
Hyundai Australia is yet to confirm plans for both vehicles, but given they have not been identified as one of its 2023 model launches, if they are to arrive they aren’t anticipated until sometime next year.
The barrier facing a hybrid Hyundai Tucson for Australia has long been a lack of a suitable version for Australia.
There is a right-hand-drive Tucson hybrid in Europe, but it is built in Europe and based on the short-body model, not the South Korean-made long-body version offered in Australia.
A long-body Tucson Hybrid is available in South Korea – where it is built – but to date it has not been offered in right-hand drive.
Powering the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid is a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, developing 169kW combined and good for claimed fuel use in South Korea of 6.2L/100km, similar to its Toyota RAV4 Hybrid rival on the same testing procedures.
The arrival of the Tucson Hybrid could be timed with the vehicle’s mid-life facelift, which is due for unveiling by the end of this year, ahead of a possible Australian launch in 2024.
Meanwhile, it is believed Hyundai Australia’s hybrid or electric option in the ‘light SUV’ class – as defined by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) industry body – is a battery-powered version of the Casper.
Hyundai’s current offering in this class is the Venue city SUV, but it is past the middle of its life cycle – four years into an expected six-year run – and it is not already available as a hybrid in South Korea or its main market, India.
This means the more likely choice for Hyundai Australia is the Casper, a pint-sized, high-riding hatchback based on the same architecture as the Kia Picanto, Australia’s cheapest new car.
Reports indicate an electric version is in development for launch in South Korea in 2024, with a targeted price of $AU37,000 – which if applied in Australia could make it the cheapest electric vehicle on sale.
The Hyundai Casper is already 18 months into its life cycle, but will be close to the three-year mark by the time it is expected to arrive in Australia.
This could see the launch of the electric model coincide with a mid-life upgrade for the petrol version overseas.