Hyundai Australia has confirmed the first ute it introduces will be electrified.
The brand’s local boss, John Kett, told media at the launch of the updated Sonata that the company will announce details of its upcoming ute in 2024.
Speaking in response to news of BYD introducing a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) ute here by the end of 2024, followed by a full electric vehicle (EV) by the end of 2025, Mr Kett said that Hyundai sees the ute market moving in that direction.
“We think [the industry] it’s heading down that path, and I think it’s quite exciting, isn’t it?” said Mr Kett.
“Most certainly when we think about what we may or may not do, we think about pricing, but also concentrating on the capability, and when we’re ready to talk about it, I think we’ll meet both parts of the story,” he said.
“Most people that are concerned about the electrification of automotive worry about the price entry point at one side, and its ability to provide the applications that Australia needs. That announcement is demonstrating that someone can do it – we haven’t heard about the capability of it.”
In the past, Mr Kett has said the brand knows a full EV will not meet the needs of everyone in the market, which does point towards a possible strategy very much in line with the BYD ute.
Likewise, Ford Australia will offer a PHEV version of its Ranger ute come early 2025, with the Blue Oval brand already spending big on advertising, putting up billboards around Australia getting drivers thinking about the new, high-tech take on the big-selling ute.
Toyota has previewed an electric ute with the seemingly production-spec HiLux Revo electric concept, though it hasn’t confirmed any immediate plans for a HiLux EV. It will, however, add 48-volt ‘assistance’ to its top-selling ute next year.
And in case you missed it, there already is a Chinese-made electric ute in Australia, the LDV eT60, which – at $92,990 before on-road costs – is possibly a glimpse at what to expect in terms of pricing, considering LDV has traditionally been seen as a budget brand.
Mr Kett wouldn’t comment whether the new ute would be all-electric from the get-go, but indicated that having planning in place now is crucial in helping the brand meet the requirements of the upcoming fuel efficiency standard, which is expected to be announced by the federal government in the coming weeks.
“I think everything we’re doing in [the electric vehicle] space, and in the light commercial space beyond that, and the electrification of where we think the light commercial vehicles could go – it creates a good sort of synergy of where we think we want to take heavy commercial vehicles, which is not everyone’s top of mind… but the reality is we’ll talk a bigger story next year,” he said.
“What do they say? Build it and the consumers will come? We’re getting closer, so just be patient.
“We’ve been waiting for 20 years. We keep saying, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary [as Hyundai Motor Company Australia] this year, we can wait for 21 or slightly longer for this to make it to reality.
“Keep asking the question though, because one day someone will answer it!”
Kia is also hard at work on its first ute, rumoured to be known as the Tasman, and has previously confirmed it’s also working on an electric ute.
Hyundai already offers a ute in markets like the US, in the shape of the Tucson-based, unibody Santa Cruz. It isn’t produced in right-hand drive.