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Hot Hyundais to the N-th degree
Factory support of N range reflects Aussie enthusiasm toward performance cars: HMCA
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23 Nov 2021
By MATT BROGAN
HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) says the popularity of N and N Line model sales, coupled with strong owner sentiment for its sporting variants, is drawing not only admiration from the Korean head office but broader support from the brand’s supply and global research and development networks.
Speaking to GoAuto at the recent launch of the i20 N and Kona N, HMCA head of product and future business group Andrew Tuitahi said ongoing buyer interest and “overwhelmingly positive sentiment” of the N program locally had exceeded initial forecasts, generating what he says is the “perfect storm of factory support”.
“To be honest, it’s a dream come true,” Mr Tuitahi said. “There are many people working here at HMCA that have been talking about a program such as this since well before I arrived, and to see it come to fruition is just incredible.
“The support we are offered by head office in Seoul, the R&D centre in Namyang (Korea), the technical centre in Russelsheim (Germany), the design and technical Centre in Irvine (USA), and the many other subsidiaries is genuinely overwhelming.
“They’re all very keen to provide the Australian market with the kinds of products we want, and they’re regularly sharing information with us and working out ways to ensure that we get those kinds of vehicles on our shores.”
Despite recent pandemic-related supply issues, Mr Tuitahi said Australia was in a better position than most when it came to receiving an on-time allocation of not only its N models, but mainstream lines as well.
The popularity of the brand as a whole – and Hyundai’s venerated hot-weather and localised suspension tuning programs – contribute to a ‘success breeds success’ situation for the strong-selling Korean brand.
“The success and popularity of N and N Line models here has definitely cemented Australia as having a significant and important role in not just the availability of cars, but in developing the vehicles globally,” Mr Tuitahi explained.
“While other markets, such as Europe or North America appear huge compared to us, we really do perform exceptionally well on a country level when it comes to N and N Line models. There’s always a little bit of joy in that knowledge … when you enter submissions for various products and you see what other markets have submitted, there’s a little bit of cheekiness in me that says, ‘hey, we can just up it a little bit and beat those guys’.”
Mr Tuitahi said that should the brand’s popularity continue, Australia could see an even more diverse product offering in the future.
“We have been really lucky, and we hope that it continues, because there’s definitely other products coming that we’re got our eyes on,” he added.
“Australian buyers have passion, and it’s that passion that sees people at Hyundai – both here and overseas – go above and beyond their typical jobs to ensure projects are fulfilled. We perform really well as a market, we sell more Ns as a ratio to what many other markets sell, and when you combine those things, it makes sense that the factory wants to support Australia with N products.”
Without quoting exact numbers, Mr Tuitahi said the percentage of N cars sold in the i30 model line was close to that of some European rivals, which had enjoyed similar success with their own ‘hot hatch’ variants.
“We’re not quite where the Golf GTI is yet, and I don’t want to give an exact number, but we do track our N and N Line sales every month, and they’re really surprising us,” he said.
“The ratio of N and N Line models is getting richer, and that mix is growing across our entire portfolio. We had an inkling i30 N would do well, but it’s the customer sentiment towards N Line models that has been a little bit of a surprise.
“The mix that we’ve seen on some model lines is more than we thought it would be. In the Tucson line particularly, it’s tremendous. We tried very hard to make sure our N Line cars represented great value, and when you weigh up what’s offered for the price then we think ticking the box for an N Line model is a bit of a no-brainer.”
Factory support offered in ensuring Australian buyers receive cars promptly is already paying dividends for the arrival of Hyundai’s latest N models. Initial i20 N and Kona N shipments mean customers who paid deposits sight-unseen will receive their cars before Christmas.
Mr Tuitahi said 250 examples of the i20 N were purchased without so much as a test drive, the Kona N nearly as popular with 150 examples ordered upon the model’s announcement. GoAuto understands that dealer stock for the i20 N includes around 450 units available from the initial shipment, with approximately 150 Kona N models ‘on grass’.
He said stock and supply levels were “really hard to forecast when models are so popular”.
“But we’ve got a pretty firm grasp of what we’re getting this year, and we’re working through our budget and shipping plan for next year right now, so I’m confident we’ll hit our numbers,” Mr Tuitahi predicted.
“I think we’re just lucky, and it’s a unique position to be in. With stock coming through, and four or five different offerings available, there’s certainly going to be something that floats someone’s boat.”
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