News - Hyundai
Hyundai plays it safe in 2016
New beginnings: Each new model is helping build the Hyundai brand in Australia, according to the company’s chief operating officer Scott Grant.
Sales to remain steady as Hyundai banks on quality new product to boost brand
23 February 2016
HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) will continue with its plans for
sustainable growth, but new chief operating officer Scott Grant does not expect
the company to make major sales gains this year.
The South Korean car-maker ended 2015 with a record haul of 102,004 units, just
947 sales behind GM Holden which retained third position in the marketplace
behind Toyota and Mazda.
Despite Hyundai’s consistent growth in recent years, Mr Grant, who replaced
John Elsworth in December and is a former head of Lexus Australia and Holden
Special Vehicles, does not believe the bullish Korean brand will overtake
Holden in the sales race this year.
“I don’t think so,” he told GoAuto in an interview at the launch of the
new-generation Elantra in Tasmania this week.
“Holden’s a long-time, iconic brand in Australia and rightfully so, very well
connected in the Australian marketplace and I think they have an outstanding
product range and brand heritage and we are focused on our own products and our
own brand and our own gameplan and trying to move that forward.
“If something like that happens moving forward in terms of the rankings, then
it is more a fallout of a process that we have invested in rather than a
specific target. There may be times into the future when we go up and down in
volume based on product availability and other issues.”
Mr Grant said he expected Hyundai to end 2016 with similar sales figures to
last year, and highlighted changes to the product line-up that could impact the
“Our internal planning has moved to a more flexible base where we are not
perhaps setting a big number target at year end; we have some vision of where
we should be based on the products we have got and their contribution,” he
“We are really working on more a quarterly base through the year and that will
give us a better indication as each quarter unfolds about things like supply,
sales, demand and stock levels.
“I would imagine we would be somewhere around last year. We will lose a bit
with i20, gain a bit perhaps with Elantra and Tucson. Up and down.”
The i20 light hatch was once the top seller in its segment but was dropped from
the line-up last year after HMCA determined the new-generation Turkish-built
version would cost too much to import to be competitive in Australia.
Its ageing Accent stablemate is now Hyundai’s sole offering in the segment.
Mr Grant praised his predecessor, Mr Elsworth, who resigned late last year to
spend more time with his family, and added that he would not deviate too far
from the company’s plans for ongoing growth.
Left: Hyundai COO Scott Grant.
“John made a terrific contribution and I was very happy to have had some time
with John before he retired,” he said.
“Really, (we are) just trying to move the same plan forward. And we are trying
to maximise the opportunity for us in this market. That’s really all I am
trying to do. Keep the team together, keep us moving forward, keep the dealers
“To launch new products … and maximise the potential of those products, because
I think we have great potential across the brand and each product as it comes
to market moves us forward another step. Continue the slow but steady growth.”
In terms of identifying areas of Hyundai’s business that require attention, Mr
Grant said there were no glaring issues with the car-maker’s operations, and
highlighted new and improved product as a way to attract new customers.
“I don’t think there is anything that you might call broken or in need of
attention,” he said.
“I think the business is in great shape. Our opportunity is to bring vehicles
to the market, to the dealers initially, then the customers so that they can
perhaps open their mind and consider a Hyundai. There are still a lot of people
that haven’t really had a Hyundai experience so far.
“Obviously we are one of the growth brands in this market. It is a heavily
competitive market here of over 60 well-known automotive brands all competing
in a 1.1-million car market. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense in some
ways. But it is a consumer-driven market so only the best survive.”
Despite major efforts in the area of aftersales service, Hyundai unexpectedly
fell in its JD Power Customer Service Index ranking last year, slipping below
the industry average to sixth place, while sister brand Kia jumped up into
fourth spot from ninth in 2014.
Mr Grant said customer and aftersales service would continue to be a priority.
“We have got a very strong iCare program in play. We like to pride ourselves on
customer first in many ways,” he said.
“We are very focused with our own internal call centre to support customers and
dealers to provide the fastest, best quality information possible. We are
continuing to invest in the CSI area. I don’t think there will be a change
Responding to claims that some dealers have complained about having an
over-supply of stock, Mr Grant said Hyundai keeps a close on eye on stock
levels and engages regularly with the network.
“It’s not an issue anymore now than at any other point in time,” he said. “The
level of dealer stock is always something we are aware of. It is something we
have in our computer system, so we have great visibility of dealer stock as
well as our own stock so it is a matter that we monitor and we can manage and
we work with the dealer council closely on programs and policies and things
“Hopefully you’d hear this from dealers as well but we try to be as
collaborative as possible.”
In terms of brand perception in Australia, Mr Grant said every new product
Hyundai launches is helping to push the company away from its previous
budget-focused brand image.
“We see Hyundai evolving into what we coined ‘modern premium’, which is an
evolution from a value-based brand we have been historically.
“I think the product is leading that charge and leading that evolution of the
brand. Santa Fe, Tucson, these products are moving the brand from there to
there. The brand is always led by the product.”
Mr Grant said gaps in its product line-up included in the utility and city SUV
segments and denied that it need an injection of sexier product in the form of
something like a high-end sportscar to improve its image.
He praised the existing product offering, while acknowledging the challenges of
operating in the ultra-competitive Australian new-car market.
“The reality is we have a pretty good stable of products to offer the market
right now and it is a matter of them developing. With every product
introduction, we are moving the product and the brand forward another level,
another notch every time,” he said.
“But the nature of a competitive landscape though is that so is everyone else.
As we are moving forward, so is everyone else. The consumer requirements and
some of the drivers in the market and technology introductions such as Apple
CarPlay and so on will revolutionise the way people use their vehicles.
“So as much as we are responding and moving, equally the market and consumer
requirements are changing so it is a constant evolution. We are up for it; we
are having a crack.”