News - Hyundai
Hyundai bolsters branding activity
N-couraging: Hyundai’s sharpened Tucson 30 Special Edition proved that Australians like a sporty SUV, laying the foundations for a possible N version.
New N fast-car division, other models to continue elevating Hyundai brand power
21 February 2017
HYUNDAI is stepping up its efforts to raise its prestige and customer
perception through a flourishing range of new models, a sharpened focus on
lifestyle and the imminent N-range of high-performance vehicles.
While the South Korean car-maker has made significant inroads in recent years
to boost the appeal of its growing line-up, the Australian subsidiary believes
appealing new models in the pipeline and more driver-focused metal will
strengthen the brand’s reputation.
Speaking at the i30 first international drive event in South Korea last week,
Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) chief operating officer Scott Grant said
the company still has work to do changing public opinion of the 50-year-old
“That’s our bigger and broader challenge beyond i30,” he said. “i30 needs to
wrestle some of that responsibility on its own but the broader brand needs to
continue to evolve.
“Our products have been getting better and better almost level-up with each
model change across the board and our brand is lagging that development. There
are many people who, to this day, don’t appreciate the brand or the quality of
the product in my view.”
In addition to the continued rollout of polished new models including the
new-generation i30, a key force joining the brand alignment battle will be the
eagerly anticipated N range of high-performance variants led by the i30 N.
Mr Grant explained that the new go-faster branch of the company was not
directly charged with the task of significantly increasing sales, but would
serve as a desirability halo for the entire brand.
“I don’t think in percentage terms the N series is going to be substantial but
it will be hugely important from a brand and image point of view. I think it
will also provide the opportunity to bring some new buyers to the brand that
haven’t considered it before.
“It demonstrates the company’s ability to develop that kind of product. It’s
i30 N today and it’s other products tomorrow. It’s a really exciting direction
for the company.
“It provides a level of excitement to our staff, to our dealers, to existing
owners. It has many areas to contribute but I don’t think pure volume is the
purpose of that product.”
When it arrives globally this year, the i30 N will bring up to 202kW of power
and a track-honed chassis to do battle with the hot-hatch brigade – often said
to be led by the Golf GTI – but will be followed by yet more pumped-up models
that are still to be detailed.
Mr Grant said that details of the expanding N range were still a fair way off
but an SUV was not out of the question and that previous sportier
special-edition SUVs such as the 30th anniversary Tucson and Santa Fe SR had
proved that the sharper versions work well in the Australian market.
“A sporty version of it is probably an opportunity for us. We’ve had a couple
of limited editions that have been quite successful in recent times. With N we’
ll have a better halo and perhaps more consistency across products that will
state what that brand is all about.
“It’s that emotional characteristic that drives the industry for a relatively
small portion of the volume.”
Outside the performance vehicle line-up, Hyundai will supplement its brand
appeal with more up-to-date models over the next 18 months including a compact
SUV for the competitive but potentially lucrative segment.
“This year we’ve got a substantial change to Sonata coming about May right
behind i30, later in the year we’ve got an all new baby SUV codenamed OS that
we’re excited about and then, as we turn into next year, we’ve got new
Veloster, new Santa Fe, somewhere in that mix we’ve got Ioniq and there are
other products after that,” Mr Grant said.
While rival brands of all kinds flock to the highly popular one-tonne ute
segment, Hyundai is yet to lay its big pick-up cards on the table, but Mr Grant
said the company was likely to enter the market at some point in the next two
years and that HMCA was “desperate for it”.
“It’s been planned, it’s being prepared and I’ve heard some rumours as of last
night that maybe there’s a move in that direction in the next couple of years.
I do know that HMC is taking it very seriously. A model code has been allocated
to it and work is underway.”