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Electrification from the get-go for Hyundai Australia’s first – long-awaited – ute

30 Oct 2023

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has confirmed that it will offer an electrified pick-up truck when the long-awaited ute finally arrives Down Under.


GoAuto understands that Hyundai introduce a fully electric ute – likely straddling the common Australian one-tonner and North American full-size segments as Rivian does with its R1T – in the second half of this decade, and HMCA chief operating officer John Kett has said the brand is seeing a trend in the direction of electrification for tradie and lifestyle vehicles.


Ford has already announced that it will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Ranger ute in 2025, and Chinese brand BYD has confirmed it will offer a plug-in hybrid dual-cab ute in Australia before the end of 2024, with an EV model to follow in 2025.


“We think (the industry) it's heading down that path, and I think it's quite exciting, isn't it?” Mr Kett said at a recent media event.


“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,” he said.


Mr Kett has stated at previous times that he did not believe a fully electric ute would meet the market if that was the only version available, and while nothing is confirmed as yet, it could be that the brand will offer a hybrid model alongside a battery electric vehicle (BEV), similar to BYD.


Although Mr Kett did not state outright whether there would be a hybrid ute first and then a battery electric version, he did suggest that the company is already planning for any potential requirements of the federal government’s imminent fuel efficiency standard, which is expected to be announced 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,” said Mr Kett.


“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!” he quipped.


Sibling brand Kia is also readying for launch of its first ute, believed to be known as the Kia Tasman. That vehicle is another that is rumoured to see a hedging of bets with a more traditional diesel powertrain and possibly other electrified versions, too.


Ford Australia clearly sees the need to inform the public early about its move to electrify the Ranger ute in 2025, having already deployed advertising billboards along major roads around Australia to promote the idea of a dual-cab ute with more advanced powertrain tech than just a diesel engine.

Volkswagen Australia’s commercial vehicles team have stated that it would also be interested in a plug-in hybrid version of the Amarok ute which shares its underpinnings with the Ranger, but director Ryan Davies told GoAuto the company would be more interested in a BEV.


“Our team in Hannover have outlined that if either were to be an option, they would be following the BEV path,” he said at the launch of the Amarok ute earlier this year.


“Whether it be BEV or hybrid – and I think this is an area where things may change a little bit as well, who knows – but an Amarok with BEV application doesn’t just have a market in Australia, it’s got a global market that would be applicable.


“It’s an interesting topic, and one that, arguably, Australia wouldn’t be a major player in because Europe is such a high-demand market for BEV or PHEV, that could be the reason why they adopt that strategy. But we’d be all over it, whether it be BEV or PHEV.”


Not to be outdone, Toyota recently showcased the HiLux Revo BEV electric concept, despite no immediate plans for an all-electric HiLux anytime soon. Toyota will add 48-volt ‘assistance’ to its HiLux range in 2024.


Of course, Australia has an electric ute on sale already. The Chinese-made LDV eT60, which costs $92,990 + ORC – could offer a glimpse at what to expect in terms of pricing for the new-generation of electric and electrified utes.

Ute sales in Australia remain dominated by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger models. Ford does not sell a petrol version of its ute at this point in time, but Toyota’s entry-level grades are still available with a petrol four-cylinder.


To the end of September, Ford had sold 43,073 units of its Ranger, while Toyota had tallied 44,301 HiLux registrations, with a higher percentage being more affordable 4x2 models, 21.2 per cent, compared with Ford, at just 9.5 per cent.

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