Euro Ioniq now top of NZ distributor’s wish list

Hyundai NZ will do anything it can to get the Ioniq hybrid here this year.

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MAKING good of a vow to have the Ioniq on sale here this year will likely require Hyundai to kick off its sales campaign with a Europe-spec car then switch around mid-2017 to the Australian market model it prefers.

That’s the word from Hyundai New Zealand boss Andy Sinclair, who insists he will continue to do everything possible to get the car here this year.

“We just need to see if it is possible for the European specification to be available to us – and if it is the right spec.”

In respect to how he feels about the Australian edition previously been considered a good co-share prospect for 2016 now not going to our neighbour until mid-2017, Sinclair said: “You know it is never cut and dried these things … there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get the correct car for the correct market.”

Ioniq is an automotive ground-breaker in being the world’s first production car that will be presented in three fuel-saving formats – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric.

The hybrid, the only model that has so far gone into production, is intended to be the sales starter here, but the plan is to have the other two variants here alongside it by the end of 2017.

The plan for this market to take the Australian market edition was revealed first to Motoring Network two months ago. But all this came undone just a few weeks ago, when Seoul said it could not fulfil the Australian market request this year.

Sinclair says in a perfect world he would prefer to have a car that was in a uniform specification from the start.

“But if we can get the European spec car that fits our market we would take it then look at what Australia was doing.

“Australia is taking nothing until next year – we just have to wait and see what is coming but New Zealand is a small market and cannot expect to dictate. But the plan is to have it on sale in New Zealand in 2016.”

Meantime, while Ioniq hybrid is unavoidably going to go head-to-head with the Toyota Prius, Sinclair is coy when it comes to feeding speculation that Hyundai here will target the market leader’s petrol-electric in the taxi sector, where it has highest visibility.

There’s more than on reason. First off, it’s acknowledged that the bulk of Prius taxis are not New Zealand-new cars, but used imports from Japan.

Also, the taxi industry seems to be shifting out of that hatchback to the Camry hybrid, which has much the same running gear and provides similar operating costs, but being a medium sedan has more passenger and boot space than the compact Prius.

Sinclair says he has already read that taxi drivers seem to paying scant regard to the latest, generation four Prius launched earlier this year.

“I’d be interested to know how many Prius were bought new … there seem to be a lot of second hand, used import cars.”

Would that situation make it too difficult for Hyundai NZ to pitch for business?

“Well, it would be hard to compete with second-hand imports on price.”

Hyundai also has a hybrid version of its Camry competitor, the Sonata, but this version is not built in right-hand-drive. Could it ever be?

“There will be a plan to build it in right-hand drive but I don’t have the timing for that. I don’t think there is any (Hyundai) model where they don’t plan to produce in right-hand drive. But we’re not always privy to the timing.”

Hyundai NZ’s decision to sell all three versions of Ioniq was broken by Motoring Network on April 11.

This site pointed out then that delivering all three versions here seemed a brave move when just 0.01 percent of the national fleet, slightly more than 1000 cars, are electrically-motivated models, while hybrids achieve just less than two percent of the share.

However, the plug-in hybrid sector alone is set to become a busy place, with a number of brands poised to introduce new models – six alone from BMW and almost as many again from Mercedes Benz. Toyota New Zealand is also dallying with the Prius Prime, a rechargeable version of the latest Prius hatch.

A three-type push also reminds that Hyundai is a true technology giant, on equal standing with the best electro-dabbling brands in Japan, America and Europe.

The hybrid and plug-in rechargeable version employ a 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine that operates with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and associates with a lithium ion battery pack but with capability of covering 120km on pure electric urge.

Ioniq’s petrol engine creates 77kW power and 147Nm on its own. Its power is combined with a 32kW/167Nm permanent magnet electric motor which draws power from lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 109kW and 314Nm.

The Ioniq's structure is also advanced, with part-aluminium construction which comprises the bonnet, bootlid, front cross member as well as some front and rear suspension components. Where heavier steel had to be used, higher-strength grades were used to maintain stiffness and impact protection without adding unnecessary weight.

 Ioniq has dual-zone air-conditioning that can be switched to an efficiency mode for better fuel economy, or a driver-only mode for when only one person is aboard. The driver’s instrument cluster is a 7.0-inch digital display which shows different information and in a different colour theme depending on the selected driver mode.

A second dash-mounted screen allows passengers to access the various entertainment systems through the touchscreen, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android smartphone connectivity as well as wireless device charging.

Hyundai's Eco-Das navigation further increases fuel efficiency by changing the way the car delivers power or charges the lithium-ion battery according to the driving route. The system encourages more efficient driving style as well as managing power depending on the traffic and environmental conditions.

Blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring will all be available.