Hyundai Australia today confirmed its decision to suspend importing the i45 was based on increasing global demand for the mid-sized sedan – known as the Sonata in most overseas markets – and limitations in global supply.
The local division said high demand – particularly from the Middle East and North America, which receive priority from the car’s production plants – made it difficult to secure enough Hyundai i45 volume to deliver to the car’s potential.
Hyundai Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas said the decision to drop the i45 from the line-up was unrelated to the car’s history of criticism from local motoring media over its dynamic ability.
“No, that wasn’t it. It was to do with supply,” Thomas said.
“That kind of press reporting is pretty difficult to shake off, but no, that wasn’t the point really. It was just being unable to get the right number of cars means that it doesn’t stack up as a business case.”
Thomas said it was unclear at this point if the Hyundai i45/Sonata would ever return to local showrooms.
“As things progress, who can say?” he said. “We might bring it back later on if there’s a new generation, but we don’t know at this point.”
The Hyundai i45 went on sale in Australia in May 2010, replacing the previous-generation NF-series Sonata. Sales peaked in 2011, when Hyundai sold 4872 examples of the mid-sized sedan across the country, giving it an 8.4 per cent share of the sub-$60K medium car market.
That share fell to 5.3 per cent last year as sales dropped 25.3 per cent to 3640, although much of that can be attributed to the introduction of the Hyundai i40 (above), which recorded 2392 sales in its first full year on the market.
The Hyundai i40 range is considerably more diverse than the i45, with the i40, which was designed in Germany primarily for European tastes, available with petrol and diesel engines and in sedan and wagon body styles, the i45 is available only as a sedan with 2.0- and 2.4-litre petrol engine options. The i45 is 80mm longer and 20mm wider than the i40, as well as 25mm longer between the wheels.
The discontinuation of the i45 sees the price of Hyundai’s mid-size offering increase $3000 - up from the i45's $26,990 starting price to $29,990 for the entry-level i40.
Hyundai Australia says local supply of the i45 is now limited and is expected to be absorbed by corporate and government fleets.