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Hyundai Kona ‘unlikely’ to top CX-3 in sales race

Slow burn: Hyundai Australia believes supply constraints will naturally limit the Kona’s ability to knock off Mazda’s dominant CX-3.

New compact Kona SUV won’t push Hyundai to front of small SUV crowd, says HMCA

16 Jun 2017


DESPITE being one of the most highly anticipated products in the company’s recent history, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) believes its new Kona compact SUV will not dislodge the dominant Mazda CX-3 from the number one position in the category – a spot it has held virtually since its launch in 2014.

The Kona was previewed this week at an event in Hyundai’s latest MotorStudio facility in Goyung, Korea, and will go on sale locally in September this year.

While price and specification is yet to be announced, three variants will be available at launch in two powertrains styles, including a 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive petrol and a 1.6-litre turbocharged all-wheel-drive version.

HMCA’s chief operating officer Scott Grant told journalists via video link that the CX-3 will be hard to beat over a full year on sale, given that projected sales volumes into the Korean and US markets are likely to impact HMCA’s ability to source sufficient stocks.

“To beat the local leader we'd have to get about 15,000 sales through on an annual basis,” he said, “and I don't think that, with the supply constraints that we believe we're facing at the moment and what our allocation is likely to be, I don't think we'll get to that sort of level.

“I don't think we'll get to a market leading position with the car.”

While he would not be drawn on a figure, he suggested that the Kona could figure towards the front of a pack that includes Mitsubishi’s ASX and the Nissan Qashqai.

“I think we'll be a few thousand away even at best, but our final allocation isn't set at this point and obviously the price is not set, so there's quite a few variables,” he said. “It's not a number one play that's really not what our intention is.”

The CX-3 sold 18,332 in 2016, and is on target to achieve a similar number this year.

Mr Grant agreed that the Kona has youth on its side, in light of products like the seven-year-old ASX and six-year-old Nissan Juke.

“It's too early to talk about pricing and so forth, but I think it will be a competitive product,” he said. “It will be, obviously, a modern and new product, so it'll have a few more features, and I think a bit more capability, perhaps than some of those ones you just mentioned.

“I think it will still represent, but in a different way, a good value for money because the car is very well specced and will perform very well,” he said. “I'm confident of that.”

He also pointed to the Kona as further evidence of the company’s push towards a more premium market position.

“I think it's another example and a continuation that Hyundai is on in this country, launching more premium products that arguably our brand might represent to many people,” he said, “which equally gives us an opportunity to speak to people that hadn't considered us in the past.”

Mr Scott denied that the new Kona’s relatively radical styling in comparison to other Hyundai products would divide opinions amongst traditionally conservative Australian buyers.

“I think Aussie tastes are changing,” he said. “I wouldn't agree that (the Kona) is quirky in any way. I think it’s like a Nissan Juke, or something of that sort of nature. I think it's more a continuum for us. I don't think it's unusual. And I think its packaging and drive capabilities will be pretty good.”

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