After being caught off guard by the American public’s thirst for high-riding, commodious, all-weather vehicles, Hyundai’s planning to make up for lost time.
As part of an effort we’ve known about for a year, Hyundai laid its “build more crossovers” strategy bare on Wednesday. Including the subcompact 2018 Kona, which lands on U.S. shores early next year, the automaker will “debut” eight new or redesigned CUVs over the next two years. Unfortunately, details are threadbare.
Going from Hyundai’s product timeline, the future lineup includes (among others) a new A-segment crossover, a diesel model, and an electric. Already burned, Hyundai’s now covering its bases.
“Very soon we are going to have the most diverse CUV powertrain lineup in the industry,â€� said Mike Oâ€™Brien, vice president of product, corporate and digital planning at Hyundai Motor America, in a statement.
The automaker no doubt wishes it could push the current timeline into the past, as that’s when a lack of new models began cutting into sales growth. Even though the automaker just recorded its best month for crossover sales in the U.S., it wasn’t enough to prevent an overall sales decline. In October, Hyundai brand sales sank over 15 percent, year-over-year, with sales over the first 10 months of 2017 now 13 percent lower than last year.
We’ve heard about a potential A-segment offering before, but the company’s new promise sets it in stone. It’s hard to imagine something smaller than a Kona rounding out the bottom of the lineup, as the Kona shaves four inches off the length of Mazda’s diminutive CX-3.
Speaking to Wards Auto earlier this month, O’Brien said any A-segment vehicle would likely be all-wheel drive and pricier than the redesigned 2018 Accent. Hyundai apparently envisions something similar to Kia’s boxy Soul for this segment.
We know from last year’s plans that a redesigned, slightly larger Tucson is on the way, as well as a butchier Santa Fe Sport and a wholly new midsize, three-row crossover to replace the Santa Fe. Both the A-segment and midsize CUVs should appear in mid- to late-2019. The two unidentified models appearing in 2018 should be the next Tucson and Santa Fe Sport. Joining those models next year is an electric version of the Kona and a fuel cell-powered SUV destined for (somewhat) hydrogen-friendly California.
This leaves the mysterious diesel CUV to ponder. With all crossover segments (minus full-size) now covered, it’s possible the unnamed oil-burning model in Hyundai’s timeline, due to debut in 2019, is the unibody pickup previewed by the Santa Cruz concept. That concept carried a 2.0-liter diesel powerplant. We learned earlier this fall that public reaction compelled Hyundai brass to green-light a model similar to the Santa Cruz.