Hyundai has had a meteoric rise in sales since 2009, which can be attributed to three things: Building consumer confidence in 2009 with its Hyundai Assurance program by guaranteeing a car could be sent back without one’s credit being dinged, making cars that looked desirable for the first time, and keeping reliability and cost-of-ownership costs relatively stable and trouble-free.
OK, maybe the last one could use a little work, which is exactly what Hyundai plans to do.
The Korean automaker recently recalled 1 million vehicles in the U.S., 1.68 million if you include corporate partner Kia, which reminded us that Hyundai isn’t invincible. In fact, it evoked shades of Toyota’s 2010 recall problems, in which it took back millions of cars for everything from unintended acceleration to premature rust in newer pickup trucks.
Hyundai says that’s not going to happen again, mostly because it finally has time to concentrate on the problems. Lee In-cheol, the vice president of international sales at Hyundai, says the company is already nearly at international capacity, and it can’t stretch much further.
“Without building a new factory, it is very, very difficult to supply more,” he said in an interview with Automotive News. The company has about another 5 percent of growth before being completely maxed out.
Much of Hyundai’s expansion has caused stress on its suppliers to deliver more parts, which they weren’t ready to handle. As a result, some quality issues have arisen, plaguing Hyundai with some rough spots and recalls. Even in the U.S. and around the world outside of Korea, most parts that go into the cars and crossovers are still made in South Korea.
Hyundai is eying 5 percent of the market in the U.S., which has declined from 4.7 to 4.5 percent through this year so far, even though the U.S. market is expanding. Part of that is capacity restrictions; sales are also down in the wake of last year’s fuel economy miscalculation and a lineup that’s ripe for a refreshing. Allocations for cars are being given to all markets; there’s no preference being given to the U.S. despite being one of Hyundai’s largest markets.
“Market share is important, but our company’s top priority is not market share,” Lee said. “At this point, we are focused on the goal of achieving customer satisfaction. Sales are important, but how you achieve those sales is more important.”
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)