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Hyundai stops developing new diesel engines: report

According to reports out of Korea, Hyundai has accelerated its shift away from diesel.

Hyundai will no longer develop entirely new diesel engines as part of its monumental shift to electrification, according to new reports out of the company's home country, South Korea.

According to The Korea Times, a source from within Hyundai Motor Group (which includes its Kia subsidiary) said that while the group won’t develop any all-new diesel engines, it will continue to build and update existing ones for some time. The report also states the brand has reorganised workers at its Namyang development centre away from teams based on powertrain development to ones based on vehicle type.

The shift is part of the Korean giant’s phase-out of combustion engines in most markets by 2040, as announced at an investor briefing in December 2020.

The news comes as Hyundai dumps its 1.6-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder i30 from its international range as part of its most recent facelift. If the report is to be believed this means its 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre four-cylinders will continue on, with an updated all-alloy version of the 2.2-litre arriving in the new Kia Sorento late last year, and the 2.0-litre to arrive in the new-generation Hyundai Tucson imminently.

This means the brand-new 3.0-litre inline-six diesel which powers the just-launched Genesis GV80 luxury SUV should be the brand’s last ever all-new diesel engine, firming this engine’s chances for the upcoming Kia and Hyundai ute which is targeted for a 2023 launch. Hyundai R and D boss, Albert Biermann, told CarsGuide in 2020 that the 205kW/588Nm Genesis straight-six diesel would be “out there for some time” alluding to its ability to be used in “commercial” applications.

Guido Schenken, Hyundai Australia spokesperson, confirmed to CarsGuide that the brand was in the process of "a gradual phase-out of diesel, over an extended period of time" and that the impact for Australian consumers would be "minimal given the alternative powertrain options currently being developed."

Hyundai is set to launch more mainstream hybrid models as part of its diesel phase-out. Hyundai is set to launch more mainstream hybrid models as part of its diesel phase-out.

He also noted that "cleaner, more efficient petrol engines" would play a role in replacing the brand's diesel lineup, and that the electrification of Hyundai's global model range "will be inevitable moving forward."

Hyundai’s move away from diesel comes as it preps mainstream hybrid models in the form of the new Tucson, but also as it prepares to launch its first dedicated EV, the Ioniq 5 (which has been spotted testing in Australia recently), and Xcient hydrogen fuel-cell truck in Europe.

Hyundai Group has reportedly been impressed by the reception to the Xcient in Europe and EV versions of its light duty trucks in its Korean domestic market and is heavily investing in hydrogen-fuel cell technology as the replacement for diesel worldwide.

The fourth-generation Kia Sorento launched with a new version of the brand's 2.2-litre turbo diesel in 2020. The fourth-generation Kia Sorento launched with a new version of the brand's 2.2-litre turbo diesel in 2020.

While it currently produces the Nexo fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), Hyundai says passenger cars “are the wrong product” for spreading hydrogen infrastructure. It is betting heavily on the commercial market in Europe, the Americas, and China, to help build global infrastructure.

Mr Biermann even suggested future utes from the brand will have hydrogen electric underpinnings. When questioned on whether the new EV-only e-GMP platform which underpins the Ioniq 5 would scale to the size of a ute, Mr Biermann said: “If you’re talking about commercial vehicles, pick-up trucks… [] we are the largest seller of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles worldwide. That is perhaps a better solution. We are working on it. You will see our solution soon.”

The fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson will go on sale sometime in the first half of 2021. It will be available with a 2.0-litre diesel in all-wheel drive form at launch, but buyers will have to wait longer for the much-anticipated hybrid model which has the ever-popular RAV4 hybrid in its sights.