SUV hits safety barrier
A safety barrier has blocked Hyundai’s ambitious drive into the booming compact SUV class.
Its upcoming ix25 baby is being built in India to cut costs but will only be a four-star safety car, one short of the standard for Australia.
So Hyundai fans will have to wait as much as two years before a better and safer car, based on the company’s Intrado concept from the Geneva motor show in 2014, is ready to go.
The ix35 will also move out of the compact class later this year when a slightly larger allnew model arrives in Australia and it changes its name back to Tucson.
“We won’t have a small SUV for two or three years. We will have to wait a few years until the global small SUV is launched and comes to Australia,” says Hyundai Australia COO John Elsworth.
“When we move from ix35 to Tuscon in quarter three we won’t have a vehicle in that segment.”
Elsworth is noncommittal about the name change. He admits an ix25 is coming but says it’s focused on left-hand drive and low-cost countries in Asia, and points to the Intrado as the direction for Australia.
“We’re waiting for the global SUV, which is a different car. Look at the Intrado,” he says.
Elsworth is blunt about the reason for the decision and the subsequent delay.
“It will be produced in India for RHD, but as far as we are aware it will not meet the minimum safety standard for us in Australia. That’s five-star ANCAP”.
Hyundai is currently battling on a number of fronts to get its line-up right for Australia.
It is confident of selling more than 100,000 cars in 2015, a benchmark it cleared for the first time last year, but is battling to make the numbers work for the next-generation i10 and i20 models it needs in the sub-$15,000 class.
The weakness of the Australian dollar against the euro is creating problems, Elsworth says.
“The new-generation cars coming out of Europe are a very challenging business case,” he says. “We’ll get back to you on that. We’re still working on the plan.
“It’s very premature. It’s a work in progress. Our CEO was in Korea last month starting the discussions.”
On the name game, Elsworth shrugs off any criticism of the decision to switch the ix35 to Tucson, the name it wore when the model was first introduced.
“It’s a global naming strategy. It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s just changing,” says Elsworth.
“Sometimes the importance of the name can be overstated. There are some cars with odd names that sold well. We’ve just got to educate the market.”
“It’s a marketing challenge. It’s probably not the most efficient way to market cars.”