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Hyundai Australia believes electric ute will work – for some

Hyundai Australia says it sees the potential for an electric ute here, at least for some people.

The company has also called for the Albanese-led government’s impending National Electric Vehicle Strategy to consider ways to encourage availability of EV pickups that are the right size for local buyers.

While not in any way confirming an EV ute was in development, Hyundai Australia COO John Kett told CarExpert last week that a zero-emission solution represented a strong opportunity for the brand here – among some, not all, buyers.

“Unpacking the pickup segment… there’s that primary producer need, versus a tradie’s need, versus [people] using the pickup almost as a surrogate for a large SUV,” he said.

“And we think when we break those down, we truly do see an opportunity for an EV pickup. We truly do. Not for the total market, but definitely for a significant portion of it.

“And I think what we’re seeing and what we’re witnessing with other brands globally… you can really see the technology, range being somewhat acceptable, and definitely from a performance and towing capacity perspective, the utility of it is equal to what it is today.”

The only EV ute confirmed for Australia is the Chinese LDV eT60.

We have a strong sense that Hyundai globally is working on an electric ute, as per recent quotes from Hyundai Motor Group’s head of Customer Experience Thomas Schemera.

Pictured: Renders from Enoch Gabriel Gonzales take Hyundai’s design language and adapt it for a what looks to be a high-spec dual-cab ute.

“I have had many, many discussions with the Australian markets and I know that there’s a big demand for [a ute] and I really respect that. But to start developing vehicles on an ICE basis doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

“In our long-range plan, we have many, many strategic plans. I would say embedded we have a lot of things in the pipeline,” he said, asked about any plans for a ute.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet. But I can imagine there is a way to showcase and to compose vehicles like that, for example, for Australia or for the US, we will make it happen.”

Utes make up 20 per cent of the local car market and the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger diesels are the market’s two biggest-selling vehicles.

Hyundai at this stage has nothing to compete against these juggernauts, proportionately more popular here than almost anywhere. The only ute it offers is the car-based Santa Cruz in the US.

Longer-term there’s not a heap of confirmation around how this vital segment will electrify, other than the fact it will likely go hybrid first via the Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton PHEVs, and confirmed next-generation HiLux hybrid.

Hyundai Australia’s Mr Kett said the company would like to see this glaring issue taken into account when the federal government is shaping its National Electric Vehicle Strategy, which is presently at consultation-paper stage.

“Certainly we can see the uniqueness of the pickup market in Australia and how that may be supported or at least incentivised to truly accelerate the solution around the pickup,” Mr Kett said.

Beyond a hypothetical EV ute, Hyundai is a leader in hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrains alongside Toyota, and an FCEV pickup using technology from the Nexo and Hyundai Xcient truck is also a strong possibility down the track as an alternative technology.

MORE: Hyundai ‘excited’ by chance to shape Australia’s national EV plan

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