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Advantage Korea: Hyundai says cheaper electric vehicles coming to Australia take on Chinese EVs like the MG4, BYD Dolphin and GWM Ora

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Hyundai has detailed the two-prong approach to electric vehicle sales in Australia that it says will help it reclaim its spot as a leader in the space, including launching cheaper options and capitalising on the value of its brand.

While the Korean giant isn’t sure it will be able to directly match the Chinese electric vehicle makers on price, it says it’s confident its future model portfolio will shrink the gap. Equally important, though, will be convincing customers that purchasing a Hyundai, and buying into the brand’s long history in Australia, is “worth a few thousand dollars more”.

Models like the BYD Dolphin, the GWM Ora and the MG4 have been in a race to be named Australia’s cheapest EV, a title currently held by the MG4 Excite 51 — though all three can now be had for less than $40k before on-road costs.

Hyundai says it’s wary of joining that race “because every day they set a new benchmark for themselves”, but says it is confident it has the product coming to compete.

“We used to be a leader in EVs, and now we're in the middle of the pile. So we need to get that back and claim that back as quickly as we can,” says Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, John Kett

“Can we be as price competitive as the Chinese, and can we provide the applications at the top end where EVs are used for commercial? I think there's opportunity for us.”

Asked whether Hyundai would be able to match or even beat China on pricing, Mr Kett said he wasn’t sure, mostly because the base price keeps falling, but he suggested Hyundai would be able to shrink the price gap, while working to convince new-car shoppers that buying a Hyundai EV is worth a price premium.

“I don’t know (if we can match them) because every day they set a new benchmark for themselves. So there are days when I look at our future portfolio and think ‘yeah’, and then I think ‘no’.

“But we're also looking forward — are the costs of raw materials dropping? Are the costs of batteries dropping? Our job is also to convince consumers that the differentiation of our brand is worth a few thousand dollars more.”

Cheaper Hyundai electric vehicles wouldn’t wear an Ioniq badge, but would instead likely be versions of existing products. In Europe, Hyundai has confirmed work has begun on an all-electric version of the i10 micro car, with the i20 to inevitably follow. An all-electric version of the Casper - the brand’s smallest SUV, and a nameplate which has been trademarked in Australia - has been spied in Korea, too.

If or when these models will make it to Australia remains to be seen. But watch this space.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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