Hybrid Hyundai Santa Fe confirmed for New Zealand - but no plug for now
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Hyundai New Zealand will add a hybrid version of its just-launched 2021 Santa Fe in the middle of next year - although it won't feature plug-in tech. At least not at first.
The Santa Fe hybrid will feature a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with a 44kW electric motor and 1.5kWh battery. Total system output will be 169kW/350Nm (no fuel economy figures have been shared yet) and while specification is yet to be finalised, Hyundai NZ says it anticipates the hybrid will be AWD.
But it won't be a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). It'll be a petrol-electric powertrain similar to that used by Toyota in its RAV4 and forthcoming Highlander models.
That's an immediate point of difference between Santa Fe and the equally new (and closely related) Sorento from sister brand Kia, which has announced a PHEV version for the first quarter of 2021.
The Sorento PHEV combines the same 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with a 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 66.9kW electric motor. Pure-electric range will be around 50km; the system makes 195kW/350Nm.
While the brands come from the same stable, they are distributed by different companies in NZ: Hyundai is independent and locally owned, while Kia is a factory subsidiary.
In short, there's no love lost between the two on local soil. So it's not surprising that Hyundai says it's very comfortable with its conventional hybrid option and that it's yet to be proven whether there's demand for a Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) Santa Fe.
"We know from competitor brands that have a hybrid variant that they do quite well," says Gavin Young, technical boss for Hyundai NZ.
"Our customers are asking and we know there's interest. We know there's a space we can fill.
"With all of the coverage we’re doing with EVs and Nexo, we know that early adopters want the tech.
"We're also working with Australia to see what the market might be for a plug-in variant, but that's yet to be determined. There has to be demand."
The sales stats seem to support that view. Just 610 PHEVs have been sold in NZ year-to-date, compared with 1189 BEVs and 6844 petrol-electric hybrids.
Meanwhile, Hyundai has launched the diesel and petrol variants of its 2021 Santa Fe in NZ. While it looks similar to the outgoing version save a toothy new grille and carries over most body panels, it's on a new platform, with new tech.
There are three powertrains: 132kW/232Nm 2.5-litre petrol with 6-speed automatic and AWD, the core 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel with 8-speed automated dual-clutch and AWD, and the return of a petrol V6 model: 200kW/331Nm from a 3.5-litre engine, with an 8-speed automatic (not the diesel's new dual-clutch though) and FWD only.
Across the entry, Elite and Limited specifications, pricing ranges from $62,990 to $89,990.
That $90k price for the flagship 2.2D Limited is of interest because the model has a similar suite of high technology, including remote parking and in-dash blind-spot high-res display, to the Kia Sorento Premium. But the Kia costs just $76,990.
Again, Hyundai NZ is comfortable with that. General manager Andy Sinclair points out that the gap is smaller than it used to be ($20k in the previous models) and the Santa Fe is the top seller in the segment - with the Limited being the most popular variant.
"If people buy cheaper cars, they’re still cheaper cars - maybe much cheaper cars - when they go to trade them in," says Sinclair. "What we’ve proven with our brand is that when people buy [Hyundai], they get strong residual value.
"There's a big difference in NVH [between Santa Fe and Sorento], there’s certainly a difference in the materials used, but the biggest difference is brand. People trust our brand."