Hyundai’s hybrid seven-seat rival to the Toyota Kluger will arrive in Australia during the second half of 2021.

    The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid pairs a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a 44kW electric motor and 1.5kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, put to the road through a six-speed torque converter automatic.

    Total outputs are 169kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and all-wheel drive will be available in Australia. Hyundai is promising a usable towing capacity from the electrified powertrain, along with similar performance to the 3.5-litre petrol V6.

    The seven-seat Santa Fe Hybrid will go head-to-head with the Toyota Kluger Hybrid when it arrives next year, along with the closely-related Kia Sorento Hybrid.

    Along with an efficiency boost, the hybrid Hyundai will give people who prefer petrol power an all-wheel drive option. Currently, the petrol V6 engine in the Santa Fe is only available in front-wheel drive.

    Hybrid sales have skyrocketed in Australia this year, driven largely by Toyota’s expanded range of electrified hatches, sedans, and SUVs.

    After debuting the technology in the Prius, the company rolled out what it calls self-charging hybrid options in the YarisCorollaYaris CrossC-HRRAV4, and Camry. Next year will see the arrival of the hybrid Kluger.

    A total of 54,496 hybrids have been sold to date in Australia this year, compared to just 1449 plug-in hybrids. At the same point in 2019, just 27,549 hybrids and 1336 plug-in hybrids had been sold.

    Off the cards in Australia is the Santa Fe plug-in hybrid.

    Limited local demand for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) – which combine a petrol engine with an electric motor and battery for a usable pure-electric range, usually around 50km – is to blame.

    “If we saw competitors really push the PHEV market we could make a stab at it, but at the moment we take a look at where the market is moving and plug-in is fairly limited at this stage,” Hyundai Australia product planner Scott Yoon told CarExpert.

    Australia is also behind Europe, where plug-in hybrids are required to meet strict emission standards, in the queue for cars such as the Santa Fe PHEV.

    Hyundai hasn’t shut the door entirely, however. Another company spokesperson acknowledged plug-in hybrids’ role as a “stepping stone” to fully-electric vehicles, and telling CarExpert the brand will continue to “study the market”.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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