Hyundai Australia is set to skip the plug-in hybrid version of its seven-seat Santa Fe, focusing instead on Toyota-rivalling regular hybrids and pure-electric vehicles.

    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”.

    Hyundai Australia has confirmed the regular Santa Fe Hybrid for Australia. It’ll go head-to-head with the next generation Toyota Kluger Hybrid, and promises 169kW of power and 350Nm of torque from the combination of a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an e-motor.

    The same approach will be taken with the smaller Tucson, with Hyundai prioritising a hybrid rival to the all-conquering Toyota RAV4 over the more efficient plug-in hybrid.

    The brand is also preparing to roll out its pure-electric Ioniq brand in Australia next year, led by the angular Ioniq 5 crossover.

    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 Yaris, Corolla, Yaris Cross, C-HR, RAV4, 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.

    Although the Santa Fe PHEV has been ruled out for Australia, a range of plug-in hybrid crossovers are bound for Australia over the next 12 months.

    Kia has confirmed its twin to the Santa Fe, the Sorento, will be offered with both regular and plug-in hybrid options, while the Ford Escape PHEV is currently on track to touch down locally late in 2021.

    A new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is in the works for 2021, while the smaller Eclipse Cross has inherited the plug-in drivetrain from the current Outlander.

    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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