The change of plan, according to Hyundai Australia communications manager Bill Thomas, is due to a shift in the development and production schedule of the Ioniq’s three variants: petrol-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and full battery electric vehicle (EV).
“North American and European markets prioritised full EV development over PHEV, so launch order is HEV first, then EV, then PHEV,” Thomas told CarAdvice today.
The specific length of the delay is still to be determined, but there may be a silver lining.
Where previously Australia was scheduled to get the regular hybrid model, with the PHEV as a mere wish-list item, the company’s local arm has shifted its focus to the latter.
“In theory, launching a conventional hybrid would just make us a follower or an also ran, so early preferences are for the higher-tech PHEV - and a later launch,” Thomas said.
Part of that change of tack is due to oil price drops that have been reflected at the bowser - along with increasingly efficient petrol and diesel engines - making regular hybrid models less appealing to buyers than they have been in the past.
The shift “has made it difficult to forecast how things will shape up,” he said, “and the market seems to be trending away from simple green options”.
“While Ioniq is a brand statement and not about volume, we need to be sure that the market finds our car appealing.”
The company continues to consider its options. “It could be that PHEV in first quarter 2017, followed by EV later, is our best option, but it depends on how the market develops,” Thomas said.
He added that the third variant, an all-electric offering that will likely prove the most popular version depending on price, “isn’t ruled out at this stage”.
First details of the electric Ioniq surfaced online today. Read more here.