Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors have grown in to the world’s No. 5 automaker, with an aggressive growth strategy in North America, but also in emerging markets. In India for example, Hyundai is the No. 2 automaker. But according to a new Reuters report, while the competition is investing in capacity and expansion, Hyundai is focusing on improving quality and brand image.
It was not long ago that Hyundai was a relative non-entity in the North American market. Arriving with a small lineup of economy cars, the automaker was plagued by a reputation for lagging far behind rivals from Japan such as Honda and Toyota. But in the past few years, the Korean automaker has undergone a renaissance, redesigning and expanding its range, delving in to pricier segments, and offering a bevy of features relative to the price of its models.
As a Hyundai executive told Reuters, “our operations all over the world are calling for more cars. Executives tell the chairman that capacity should be expanded because they have to sell more cars.” But the chairman says Hyundai’s capacity is sufficient, and stability is what the automaker desires. That stability may be harder to come by in the coming months, as Hyundai and Kia had misrepresented fuel economy figures on several popular models. It remains to be seen how the brand image will be affected in what is a crucial market. Hyundai has said that North America was the only one the incorrect fuel economy numbers affected.
After seeing the South Korean automaker reinvent its brand and image here in the U.S., we’re not going to second-guess its emerging market strategy. For now we’ll be watching to see how Hyundai shapes its image both in America and abroad.