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MG Motor Australia says it will shift its focus to hybrid models in the short term, suggesting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) could have a place in its line-up in Australia.
Speaking to CarsGuide at the launch of the new MG ZST small SUV, MG Motor Australia product director Danny Lenartic explained that while the brand was focused on launching the ZST and full-electric ZS EV in its small SUV range for the time being, “hybrids generally will be important for Australia going forward”.
When pushed on whether that means such models as the MG6 PHEV (pictured, top) could be making it to Australia in the future, Mr Lenartic stopped short of confirming anything, but conceded that plug-in hybrid models “are going to be a focus” for MG in the short-term.
MG’s Chinese parent company, SAIC Motor, has been launching a slew of plug-in hybrid variants of its popular models overseas, partially due to strict Chinese-market emissions regulations and tax concessions which are driving strong development of electrified models in the country.
While the success of hybrids in Australia is evident with the commanding market position of hybrid variants of cars like the Toyota Camry and RAV4, the same can’t be said for their plug-in hybrid equivalents, which, like fully electric models, are struggling to gain traction.
So apart from model availability from SAIC’s international line-up, why plug-in hybrids? Shouldn’t MG just skip straight to electric as it has already done with the ZS EV?
When pitched this question Mr Lenartic explained: “Plug-ins make more sense for Australia when you consider distance. You can have the best of both worlds. A better range if you are travelling in the country or interstate, but for daily commutes you can use next to no fuel on the electric motor.”
Mr Lenartic wouldn’t rule out the introduction of any model from the brand’s international PHEV range, including the upcoming MG5 wagon, which will be heading to the UK. A more likely proposition for Australia though is the eHS, a plug-in hybrid variant of the brand’s recently launched HS mid-size SUV.
The eHS pairs its existing 1.5-litre turbo petrol with an electric motor for total outputs close to 225kW/480Nm. Its 16.6kWh battery pack is said to be good for up to 75km of electric range. MG Motor Australia has suggested the eHS could be on the cards for a 2021 launch locally.
MG Motor's SAIC parent company has said it wants to electrify its entire line-up by 2025, an ambitiously close target.