The company maintains around a third of new orders are for one of its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or electric (EV) models, the range currently consisting of the Formentor and Leon VZe PHEVs, as well as the Born pure-electric hatchback.
A total of 450 units across Formentor and Leon PHEV models are landing in Australia – mostly the more popular Formentor, according to Cupra – which are also eligible for fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemptions for those that salary sacrifice their vehicle ownership.
Cupra’s announcement goes against the Australian industry’s slow uptake of plug-in hybrid technologies, given PHEVs haven’t been subject to the same rebates and incentives as electric vehicles (EV) like overseas markets.
Director for Cupra Australia Ben Wilks took a swipe at other “so-called ‘mild hybrid'” technologies currently available on the market, appearing to be referencing closed-circuit drivetrains offered by brands like Toyota.
“For decades in Australia, hybrids have meant 1990s technology consisting of a battery primarily powered by an outmoded naturally-aspirated engine running on high-sulphur 91 RON petrol,” Mr Wilks said.
“Cupra sells real hybrids – PHEVs – as an alternative to both our petrol customers and the fully electric Born. VZe models provide the best of both worlds – E-Mode using just the battery that can be restored from a conventional charger or good, old ‘hot hatch’ conventional performance with Hybrid.”
“Our discerning customers understand that they’re getting contemporary European technology – an efficient direct injection turbo petrol engine with a rechargeable battery good for about 50km independent of the engine, plus hybrid ability if the battery is depleted,” Mr Wilks continued.
“Those intent on making savings at the bowser can do the average daily commute on battery alone with reserves to spare. Keen drivers quickly discover that our PHEVs switch seamlessly between its dual means of propulsion and together provide a formidable 180kW and 400Nm.”
According to official VFACTS sales data, Cupra has registered 254 Formentor VZe and 15 Leon VZe vehicles to the end of September 2023, which account for 18.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent of their respective total model range sales.
By contrast, the Born has returned 594 registrations, more than double that of the company’s plug-in hybrid range. The Formentor line-up as a whole remains the top-seller for Cupra, with 1342 units registered to September 30.
Unlike most other brands, which sell plug-in hybrids for a significant premium over their petrol- or diesel-powered stablemates, Cupra has aligned pricing for its plug-in VZe models with flagship VZx versions of the Formentor and Leon – the Leon VZe is priced from $61,690 plus on-road costs, while the Formentor VZe starts from $64,990.
Both plug-in hybrids are powered by the VW Group 1.4 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine teamed with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery, all driving the front wheels via a six-speed DSG dual-clutch auto transmission. Total system outputs are 180kW and 400Nm.
For reference, the Leon VZx puts out 221kW and 400Nm to the front wheels, while the Formentor VZx develops 228kW and 400Nm sent to all four wheels. The VZe’s outputs are more aligned with the VZ versions of both the Formentor and Leon, which get the same 180kW/370Nm 2.0 TSI as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia RS.