Monday, June 15, 2009

Hyundai ‘Blue’ Range And Kia ‘Fuel-Economy Package’ For US, Not Likely For Aus


WHILE HYUNDAI AND KIA already boast a range of models with impressive fuel economy, the Korean manufacturers are not resting on their laurels in the pursuit of fuel economy gains.

The Hyundai Elantra and Accent, along with the Kia Cerato (badged as the Forte) are about to be tweaked in the US with a series of subtle revisions to eek out a few extra miles per gallon. The new models will be dubbed as the ‘Blue’ series for Hyundai, while Kia will offer a ‘fuel economy package’ on its options list.


To go on sale later this year, revisions will include lower rolling resistance tyres, electric power steering taking the place of the hydraulic setup, smart alternators to reduce drag on the engine and a five-speed auto in place of the four-speed unit.

On the outside, the aero package will be revised slightly to allow the cars to slice through the air more cleanly.

Kia claims fuel consumption will drop from 9.4 l/100km in the city and 6.9 l/100 km (25/34 mpg) to 9.1 l/100km on the city cycle and 6.5 l/100km (27/36 mpg) for the highway test. Hyundai hasn’t released any figures yet, but should return similar gains.


The two companies will also take a different approach to marketing their respective fuel misers. Hyundai will offer the Blue models as entry-level specification cars, which means some luxury items may get the flick in the interest of offering a low price point.

Kia, however, believes that buyers are prepared to pay for fuel economy gains, with the fuel economy package retailing for around US$600 (AU$740).

TMR spoke Hyundai and Kia to about these new features appearing on models in the Australian lineup for both companies.

“We’re always interested in any new means of improving the efficiency and appeal of our vehicles, and if these new features are made available for the ‘general’ market - which Australia is a part of - we would certainly be looking at offering them locally,” Kia National Public Relations Manager, Jonathan Fletcher, said.

Stephen Howard, National Media Manager for Hyundai, was less optimistic: “Not in the foreseeable future. Obviously every vehicle in the global Hyundai range is reviewed for its potential sale in Australia, but at this point it’s unlikely the Blue series will be offered.”

Hyundai showed its i10 Blue and i30 Blue models at the 2009 Melbourne Motor Show, and while it may have seemed that these models were shown as previews of what was to come for the Australian market, that no longer appears to be the case.