The current-generation 'PB' i20 will soldier on in Australia until at least the end of 2015, with no replacement apparent for Hyundai's ageing - yet still popular - light car.
"We will have the old one at least until the end of this year," said Hyundai Australia product planner Andrew Tuitahi to TMR.
"The replacement for that car is still undecided, it’s something that we’re frantically working on and a problem that’s really tough to solve."
The key barrier is an unfavourable exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the Euro.
With the European-spec i20 (pictured) sourced exclusively from Hyundai's plant in Turkey, the business case for the new i20 doesn't stack up quite so well against the Indian-built older model.
"The i20 that we source now is manufactured in India," Tuitahi explained.
"When that plant first came on line it was supplying into Europe as well, so we were essentially receiving a Europe-destined i20 manufactured in India.
"We don’t have Euro exchange rate risks on that car and shipping to us is relatively close and quick."
"Now the new generation [i20] has moved to the Turkish plant for Europe, so we’re looking at exchange rate issues there and also the distribution out of Turkey actually goes inland up to Germany and up to Bremerhaven [on the North Sea coast]."
Indian production lines are presently building the i20 is both old and new guise, potentially giving Hyundai Australia a cost-effective solution to sourcing the new-generation i20.
However according to Tuitahi the Indian-built new i20 won't meet crashworthiness standards set by the company for the Australian market.
"We think the Indian version [of the new i20] would probably deliver us a three-star [ANCAP] score, whereas the European version of the car - at least from what we’ve seen so far - we believe it would be a five-star vehicle," he said.
As for waiting for the Indian plant to tool up to build a European-specification i20 for Australia, Tuitahi wasn't hopeful.
With Europe presently served by the Turkish plant and India already satisfied by its domestically-built (though less-safe) version, there's little financial incentive for Hyundai to re-tool the Indian facility just for Australia.
Crashworthiness was also cited by Tuitahi as a concern regarding the ix25 compact SUV, which went on sale last year in China as a smaller alternative to the ix35.
"There are similar issues to what we’d find if we were to source the [new generation] i20 out of India," he said.
"But a car of its size is definitely interesting for us. That small SUV segment has seen huge growth of 230 percent or so over the last few years."
"It's definitely a segment of interest, but there’s no Western-market style car on the horizon."
If the ix25 or another compact Hyundai SUV were to come to Australia, it would do battle with models like the new Honda HR-V and Renault Captur, along with the incoming CX-3, the Holden Trax and the Ford EcoSport.
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