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'We see ourselves as a top three player': Hyundai banks on affordable hybrid models and additional EVs as part of its strategy to solidify its top-10 position

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How Hyundai says it will hold a top 3 position.
How Hyundai says it will hold a top 3 position.

Speaking to media at the launch of the new-generation Santa Fe, Hyundai executives explained the brand’s strategy for solidifying its place in Australia’s market in light of the new vehicle emissions standards, and the arrival of significant numbers of lower-cost rivals from China.

Hyundai Australia Chief Operating Officer John Kett, explained that Hyundai has to significantly change its model mix going forward if it is to reach the necessary emissions targets by 2030.

“Our gut feeling is that by 2030, if you’re not 33 per cent EV, 33 per cent HEV, 33 per cent ICE, then you’re going to have real trouble complying” he said, “but we know we need to be more aggressive with the EV mix if we want to be compliant from day one.”

“The industry is up 15 per cent, that’s a real positive number, HEV and PHEV are up 200 per cent, EV, regardless of people’s concern with it, is up 130 per cent from this time last year.

“ICE is largely flat, probably four per cent up from last year. If we back out utes and body-on-frame SUVs, in fact ICE is going backwards. So we are starting to see this shift in the industry as it starts to move toward hybrids and EVs.”

“We’re excited about filling our portfolio with largely hybrids.” he said, adding hybrid versions of the Tucson would join the just-launched hybrid-only Santa Fe, Kona and i30 HEV variants, as well as the incoming mild-hybrid i30 hatch out of Europe.

The recently launched Santa Fe is hybrid-only
The recently launched Santa Fe is hybrid-only

Unlike its key rivals, particularly Honda and Nissan, who have chosen to launch their new-generation hybrid powertrains only on high-spec vehicles, Hyundai’s pricing structure for its hybrids generally include an entry-level variant. This has been a big part of the success of Toyota in offering hybrid across its range.

Interestingly, the brand says its range of hybrid price-tags isn’t driven by the need for more hybrid sales in light of NVES, but that the brand’s additional supply from the factory allows it to offer more choice across its range.

Kett said two new EVs would launch from Hyundai in the coming year, as the brand looks to have its own versions of vehicles like the Kia EV3 and EV5 from its sister company.

The upcoming mild-hybrid i30 hatchback from Europe
The upcoming mild-hybrid i30 hatchback from Europe

However, he also warned Hyundai wouldn’t be slashing prices in the same way many rivals have in the last few months as sales slow and competition heats up in the EV space, as it would be detrimental to the brand, and this will mean Hyundai won’t vie for a number one in EV position in the short-term.

“We’re really cautious about what we’re doing on pricing. There’s some pretty innovative new rivals in the market with these Chinese entries - we need to be clear on the type of volume we need and when to make sure we meet our NVES targets so we’re not constantly re-visiting our EV pricing. You’ll see we’ll be a bit aggressive around the run-out of Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 as we refresh. Beyond that, when we set that price price we’re not trying to be number one for EVs.”

“I thought if we exit the year at 4000-5000 units then we’ve done a really solid job - for us, our network, and sustainability on that pricing [but] if [the market] pushes us a certain way we might have to respond.”

The arrival of a hybrid Tucson is imminent
The arrival of a hybrid Tucson is imminent

“We’re trying to bring some confidence around that residual value.” Kett also mentioned Hyundai would be launching its own finance company to get more involved in ‘guaranteed future value’ of its own products before the end of 2024, as the brand recognised resale values and confidence around battery life had become a “major issue in the industry.”

While Kett was confident Hyundai’s pricing and market positioning would keep it above “pricing turbulence”, which has come with the addition of many lower-cost Chinese automakers to Australia, the brand’s strategy of sticking to a 33 per cent sales split across its range would help it reclaim and maintain a top-three position.

“I think the 3/3/3 view of where we think we need to be by 2030 - we won’t be number one [for EV], there are EV only players are in the marketplace and we see ourselves as a top three player - we exited April in sixth position - sixth in HEV, fifth in EV - we’ve gotta lift our whole business back up towards a minimum of number three. Once our portfolio expands we can re-state our ambitions again then.”

The new Euro-sourced i30 hatch will arrive in July
The new Euro-sourced i30 hatch will arrive in July

The new-generation Santa Fe will be joined by an updated Tucson mid-size SUV imminently, with the new Euro-sourced i30 hatch to arrive in July. Kett re-iterated that the brand’s EV portfolio “needs to be a focus” for the remainder of 2024 into 2025 if it intends to meet NVES targets in the coming years.

Tom White
Senior Journalist
Despite studying ancient history and law at university, it makes sense Tom ended up writing about cars, as he spent the majority of his waking hours finding ways to drive as many as possible. His fascination with automobiles was also accompanied by an affinity for technology growing up, and he is just as comfortable tinkering with gadgets as he is behind the wheel. His time at CarsGuide has given him a nose for industry news and developments at the forefront of car technology.
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