The next-generation Hyundai i45 may be a chance for Australia if the company can get its formula right for a two-pronged attack on the medium-car segment.
Speaking at the launch of the Hyundai ix35 Series II in Queensland last week, Hyundai chief operating officer John Elsworth told CarAdvice that Hyundai Australia could potentially make the i40 and next-generation i45 work alongside each other, acknowledging that the original i45 was a difficult proposition.
“We always struggled with it [i45]," Elsworth said.
"When you had a car that didn’t even have Bluetooth, in an age that we are trying to sell cars, it didn’t make sense. We went for i40 as a more modern version of the mid-sized car.”
So far this year the medium segment has shrunk by almost 17 per cent compared with 2012, while the ever-popular Toyota Camry has grown its share of the market from 35.9 to 39.9 per cent.
“It’s a very difficult segment dominated by Camry and Toyota are aggressively discounting to drive volume so the impact on residuals for them… I don’t know," he said.
"We are doing a couple of hundred a month and if you look at the stats there’s a few that do a couple of hundred a month.”
Discontinued in January, the i45 has left a volume gap for Hyundai in the segment. In its last year on sale, Hyundai sold 3640 i45s compared with 2392 i40s.
Elsworth confirmed Hyundai Australia would look at the next-generation i45 when it becomes available.
“You've got to look at it. Sedans and wagons, see how all that fits, sedan in one and wagon in the other. We do so much planning [but] we are nowhere near talking about [confirming] i45, because it’s still [in] very deep negotiations.”
The next-generation Hyundai i45 is likely to be released late next year or early in 2015 as part of Hyundai’s continuous model rejuvenation program, which saw the original Hyundai i30 replaced with an entirely new car in fewer than five years.