Hyundai Motors is planning a budget electric hatchback – but it will likely be some time before we see anything like it on local roads.
At a Europe automotive event in Prague, Hyundai Motor Europe’s marketing chief Andreas-Christoph Hofmann said the carmaker is already working on an all-electric successor to the i10.
However, it will be some time before it is ready for production, and would be made available in Europe to begin with.
Key to the challenge of producing a vehicle of this size is price. The current i10, which is at the smallest end of the electric hatchback scale, was introduced in Europe in 2020 and sells in Germany from 11,415 euros ($A16,930 converted).
It is generally accepted that an electric minicar would need to be priced under 20,000 euros ($A29,730 converted). Hoffman confirmed with Auto News Europe that Hyundai would be targeting this price mark also.
“Everybody in the industry knows the target of this kind of vehicle is 20,000 euros,” he told the Automotive News Europe event.
But it will still be some time before electric minicars become commonplace, at least in Australia.
And while Hyundai is committed to introducing 11 more electric models in Europe by 2030, Hoffman says the technical challenges of electrifying small cars means they are not at the top of its list.
Although many drivers are waiting for affordable electric vehicles, the price margins are much lower compared to larger, more expensive vehicles.
In Australia, the microcar segment is one of Australia’s lowest selling. Because of the added costs of local homologation, import and other costs – plus a limited audience – it makes little sense to local car arms looking to introduce small cars in Australia, let alone electric ones.
There are just three microcars available to buy locally – the Fiat 500/Abarth, the Kia Picanto and the Mitsibishi Mirage.
Hyundai’s small i30 hatch does reasonably well, with almost 12,000 sold to end June in 2022. It has also just introduced the i20 N, a zippy performance hatchback in the light segment but has sold just 402 this year.
But it currently costs $34,990 before on-roads after a recent $2,000 price increase, just $5,000 (equivalent converted pricing) more than the i10 sells for in Europe.
Instead, we expect to see Hyundai continuing to target better-selling segments locally first, such as the high-performance Ioniq 5 N which has now been confirmed for a 2023 launch in Australia.
Hyundai also has recently revealed the Ioniq 6 “streamliner”, an aerodynamic rival to Tesla’s Model 3, and also has plans to launch an Ioniq 7 large electric SUV aimed at the US market
The carmaker plans to introduce 17 new electric models in total by 2030.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.