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Accent on Excel

Excel-lent forecast: Hyundai Australia MD Doug Croker is keenly awaiting an Excel successor.

Hyundai aims to recapture buyers it lost when it discontinued the Excel

26 Mar 2001

HYUNDAI Australia is confident it will claim a 50 per cent share of the light car segment when it launches an all-new B-class car that revives the Excel nameplate.

Managing director Doug Croker says the newcomer - due in August, 2002 - will be slightly smaller than the previous Excel, but he remained tight-lipped on whether it would be offered in more than one body style.

Mr Croker said the combination of the Accent and Excel would enable Hyundai to dominate the lower end of the market - as it did in 1998 with the previous Excel.

The Excel posted 44,018 sales in 1998 - an average of 3668 per month - making it the biggest-selling car among private buyers. But its success that year was driven largely by marketing incentives, including a $2000 cashback offer.

Mr Croker is confident the new generation Excel will replicate the success of its ancestor.

"I've seen the clay models (of the new Excel) and it's a stunning car. It's exactly the vehicle I would have wanted as a replacement for the Excel." Although smaller than the previous Excel, Mr Croker said the new model would not compete against the likes of the Daihatsu Sirion and Daewoo Matiz.

The Matiz has remained below the $12,000 barrier but the Sirion has snuck up to $13,590 - and that's for the base model.

Given that the base model Accent costs $14,990 - at least for now - it is possible the new Excel may revive the $13,990 price point that Hyundai abandoned when it launched the Accent.

Mr Croker concedes a lot of buyers who plumped for the Excel in the past have gone back to the used car market - but he says this is a temporary state of affairs.

"We will bring buyers back from the used car market (with the launch of the new Excel)," he said.

"It (new Excel) will be a very important car for us. The combination of the B-class car and Accent will give us a 50 per cent share of that segment." Meanwhile, Mr Croker said unfavourable exchange rates, elections and "the recession word" would shrink the automotive market to 750,000 in 2001 - compared with 787,100 last year.

"People can be persuaded into a recession and I think the media has been irresponsible in forecasting one," he said.

"We survived the Asian crisis due to the retail confidence in Australia. If we have confidence, we don't need to have a recession." As for the unfavourable exchange rates - Hyundai Australia buys in US dollars - Mr Croker said: "We're under substantial pressure".

"We're feeling the pain but we will resist price increases for as long as possible. We can hold out for longer than most due to our stock holdings." Mr Croker said Hyundai would do well to match last year's 45,331 sales in a shrinking market - even though the marque will launch four new models this year - the FC compact-people mover, facelifted Sonata, all-new Coupe and Terracan (Highlander) large off-roader.

Hyundai's model avalanche will produce five newcomers in 2002: - B-class car (Excel) - Facelifted Grandeur - Facelifted Accent - MAV (Multi Activity Vehicle) - People-mover positioned between FC and Trajet "By the end of 2002 we will have the most complete range of products of any manufacturer," Mr Croker said.

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