An Australian launch for the Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid hatch would see it priced in the space that Toyota’s plug-in Prius Prime would likely occupy – if the market-leading Japanese brand ever sees fit to bring it here.
Revealed earlier this year in a trio of hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and full-electric forms, the Ioniq range represents Hyundai’s first true step into a market dominated by Toyota for decades.
The PHEV version of the Ioniq was quickly confirmed as Hyundai Australia’s preferred option, differentiated from the regular Prius hybrid with its more advanced plug-in hybrid system.
Speaking with CarAdvice recently, Hyundai Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas confirmed the company is reviewing the business case for the PHEV model, and definitive pricing is still to be locked in.
“We’re studying the market at the moment to see which way we’ll go, generally the opinion within the company is that the plug-in would be more interesting and a stronger way to introduce that technology into the market,” Thomas said.
“It gives us a point of difference and, if you looked at it from a fleet perspective, there could be some companies that want to project an environmentally conscious image.
“In addition to that, it’s got other points of differences in terms of it being a bit more fun to drive and quite a good looking car, and very practical.”
When looking at positioning for the Australian market, Thomas suggested the Ioniq will sit competitively against where Toyota would likely drop the Prius Prime – an assumption based on the difference in US-market pricing between the regular Prius and the Prime model.
That price premium is around AU$5000, which would make the Ioniq sit at around the $40,000 (plus on-road costs) mark in Australia when compared to the $35,690 Prius.
“With the plug-in thing, price is a consideration. We’re hearing that the plug-in will be priced quite competitively and if we can get it at the right price…it’ll be a little bit more than the standard hybrid,” Thomas said. “Yes. It will be competitive against the Prius.”
“We need to be realistic about volume, we’re not going to go out there and sell 30,000 a year…we need to treat it as a brand story as well. We need to demonstrate what we can do in that field,” said Thomas.
The Ioniq is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 77kW of power and 147Nm of torque. It’s mated to an electric motor that produces 32kW of power and 256Nm of torque, with torque sent through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Korean version of the Ioniq consumes 4.4L/100km, which is 1.0L/100km more than the Toyota Prius. The final figure won’t be revealed until local fuel consumption figures are derived. The Ioniq hybrid claims a thermal efficiency of 40 percent, matching that of the new 2016 Prius hybrid.