UPDATE: Speaking with TMR, Hyundai Australia’s Bill Thomas effectively poured cold water on the idea of a premium SUV from the Korean carmaker in the near future.
Mr Thomas said there has been no official word out of either Korea or the US about a potential new premium model, and that any interest in the segment at this stage could perhaps be nothing more than market research.
As for other future SUVs from Hyundai, Mr Thomas said the ix25 and Intrado concepts marked a “serious move” into the ‘B class’ SUV segment and that the local arm would be interested in a future right-hand-drive version (if it happens) to sit below the current ix35.
The ix25 is a China-only affair for now, but whether that remains the case is unclear. Also unclear is any future model/s based on the Intrado.
A separate report earlier this month – interestingly, from the same US publication and also quoting Hyundai US CEO Dave Zuchowski – suggested the Korean carmaker was looking at a more radically-styled small SUV, rivalling the Nissan Juke and appealing to ‘Gen Y’ and first-time buyers.
Mr Thomas said the compact SUV segment was growing, and that Hyundai was actively developing products for it. Could we see a future ix25 or Intrado-style SUV in Australia?
Watch this space. You can read our original report below…
Hyundai is reportedly preparing the business case for a new premium SUV, at least in the US market.
Speaking with Edmunds, Hyundai’s North America boss Dave Zuchowski reportedly failed to rule the new model in or out, but said it was something the Korean carmaker was considering.
While the idea may seem good on paper, Hyundai is aware of stumbling blocks such as the lack of a genuine donor model upon which to build a premium SUV and no premium dealer network.
Besides extensively refining and adding to its current range-topping SUV in the seven-seat Santa Fe, Hyundai may need to design an all-new model to compete against the likes of Audi, Cadillac and Lexus; carmakers the new model would reportedly target.
A future expansion of the Genesis or Equus themes to cover other models in a new premium brand however – such as Citroen’s change of focus for the DS range - isn’t out of the question.
"We definitely studied a premium people mover (seven-seat SUV), if you will - it is not in the plan and it is not eliminated, it is something under consideration," Mr Zuchowski said.
"One of our problems is we made a conscious decision on our premium products not to establish a secondary distribution channel. And that decision, and we absolutely think it is the right decision, has some flow-through impact on products."
Mr Zuchowski pointed to the challenges a front-wheel-drive premium SUV may face with potential customers who fail to see the value in stepping-up to the higher-spec model wearing the same badge, if the only difference was styling.
For now, Hyundai’s top-shelf SUV for Australian customers is the Santa-Fe Highlander, priced from $51,990 plus on-roads.
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