Hyundai Tucson hybrid, Casper electric car likely for Australia next year

Hyundai is tipped to introduce a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid competitor – and a pint-sized electric car – in Australia in a plan to roll out hybrid and electric power across its SUV range over the next two years.

The Hyundai Tucson Hybrid mid-size family SUV may finally be coming to Australia – alongside the upcoming electric version of the Hyundai Casper city car – by the end of next year.

Hyundai Australia Direct to Consumer division boss Andrew Stamatakis told Australian media at the launch of the Ioniq 6 electric car this week “Hyundai will have an electrified model in every SUV segment we operate in by the end of next year.”

Today’s model range includes the small Kona Electric, mid-size Ioniq 5 and large Santa Fe Hybrid, and within 18 months it is due to be expanded with a Kona Hybrid and the large Ioniq 7 electric SUV.

Drive understands there are two gaps left to be filled: a ‘light SUV’ in the same category as the current Venue, and a traditional mid-size SUV (as the Ioniq 5 is considered more of a ‘crossover’, or inflated hatchback than a true SUV).

It is understood a hybrid version of the Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV is planned to fill the latter gap – while the Venue-sized vehicle is expected to be the electric version of South Korea’s Hyundai Casper city car.

Hyundai Australia is yet to confirm plans for both vehicles, but given they have not been identified as one of its 2023 model launches, if they are to arrive they aren’t anticipated until sometime next year.

The barrier facing a hybrid Hyundai Tucson for Australia has long been a lack of a suitable version for Australia.

There is a right-hand-drive Tucson hybrid in Europe, but it is built in Europe and based on the short-body model, not the South Korean-made long-body version offered in Australia.

A long-body Tucson Hybrid is available in South Korea – where it is built – but to date it has not been offered in right-hand drive.

Powering the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid is a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, developing 169kW combined and good for claimed fuel use in South Korea of 6.2L/100km, similar to its Toyota RAV4 Hybrid rival on the same testing procedures.

The arrival of the Tucson Hybrid could be timed with the vehicle’s mid-life facelift, which is due for unveiling by the end of this year, ahead of a possible Australian launch in 2024.

Meanwhile, it is believed Hyundai Australia’s hybrid or electric option in the ‘light SUV’ class – as defined by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) industry body – is a battery-powered version of the Casper.

Hyundai’s current offering in this class is the Venue city SUV, but it is past the middle of its life cycle – four years into an expected six-year run – and it is not already available as a hybrid in South Korea or its main market, India.

This means the more likely choice for Hyundai Australia is the Casper, a pint-sized, high-riding hatchback based on the same architecture as the Kia Picanto, Australia’s cheapest new car.

Reports indicate an electric version is in development for launch in South Korea in 2024, with a targeted price of $AU37,000 – which if applied in Australia could make it the cheapest electric vehicle on sale.

The Hyundai Casper is already 18 months into its life cycle, but will be close to the three-year mark by the time it is expected to arrive in Australia.

This could see the launch of the electric model coincide with a mid-life upgrade for the petrol version overseas.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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