Hyundai’s N Performance brand will introduce its first electric model in 2023 and by 2030 the entire line-up will have ditched petrol-power.
In Australia for last weekend’s N Festival at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia, Till Wartenberg, vice president N Brand management and motorsport, and Albert Biermann, executive technical advisor, laid out the vision for the South Korean company’s performance division across the next decade.
The arrival of the Ioniq 5 N in 2023 will usher in a new era for the N sub-brand and start the timer on its all-electric switch. Asked about the future of petrol-powered N models, Mr Wartenberg said adding any new N models to expand on the i20, i30 and Kona offerings is unlikely, although they will try and extend the life of both the i20 and i30 hatch through facelifts in the near-future. Hyundai will launch an all-new Kona in 2023 but an N version isn’t likely.
“Honestly, completely new ones? I don’t think so,” he admitted. “We are discussing to be as long as possible with combustion engines but the regulations, for example Euro7, wherever that applies it makes it impossible to go many more years with combustion engines.
“So we’re thinking B- and C-segment we can prolong as long as we can, it always depends on the volume and the customer requirements and if they have the demand for that time period. But we see that it is possible, but it has to be somewhat profitable. So we focus most of our energy at the moment on the transition to electrification.”
Mr Wartenberg and Mr Biermann both hinted that the i30 Sedan N is likely to have the longest life, with sales of the four-door model strong enough in South Korea and the USA to keep it running for the foreseeable future.
The good news for Australian N fans is our current regulations don’t encourage electric vehicle uptake in the same way as Europe and other markets, so we could remain one of the biggest markets for the petrol-powered performance cars.
“Regulations are regional,” Mr Wartenberg said. “N is not available in all parts of the world, in Australia the regulations are different than in Europe. So if you talk about this part of the world, combustion engines might survive much longer than in Europe, for example.”
But eventually Hyundai N will transition to electric power beyond the confirmed Ioniq 5 N and the anticipated Ioniq 6 N. Both these models will be larger and much more expensive than the current line-up. Mr Biermann is optimistic that by the end of the decade Hyundai should be in a position to offer cheaper electric models that can replace the i20 N and i30 N.
“By 2030 there should be affordable solutions for a B-segment N car, a C-segment N car, for sure,” he said.
Despite the shift to electric power, both executives are adamant that the N Performance vision of ‘fun-to-drive’ cars will remain.
“The future has a safe base,” said Mr Wartenberg. “It’s not ending with fun-to-drive on a racetrack. This is, I believe, what our mission is and what we can imagine… I think it will be more affordable because of economies-of-scale, it will be more advanced technology. You will see more rolling labs in the future and you will see more motorsports. And if I had my wish, with hydrogen.”