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Hyundai Getz back to the future

Mirror image: Getz reflects Hyundai's ambitions to return to the Excel's halcyon sales days

Non-identical twins: Getz sales get an "Excel-lent" boost

6 Nov 2002

IT'S back... $13,990 pricing has reared its head at Hyundai Automotive Distributors Australia once more as it struggles to build sales momentum for its new entry-level hatchback, the Getz.

And while Hyundai's rivals are painting the move as an admission that its push to move upmarket has failed, the local distributor rejects that, instead describing the repositioning as a necessary aggressive defence of its dominant light car sales position.

HADA built sales to nearly 60,000 in 1997 on the back of the entry-level Excel that sold for as low as $13,990 drive-away with free air-conditioning.

However, by the time it went off the market in 2000 to be replaced by the larger, more expensive Accent, sales volume had begun to drop away. Hyundai still dominates the light car category with a share around 30 per cent but the sales numbers are now far lower than in the Excel's halcyon days.

HADA will record a sales total of around 40,000 in 2002. It had been aiming for 45,000 this year, on the back of 2000 Getz sales per month over the last four months of the year supported by an $8 million advertising campaign.

But to the end of October, around 1200 Getz are believed to have been sold.

HADA is primarily blaming intense pricing action from various rivals that have impacted on interest in Getz as well as an inability to gain sufficient supply from Korea.

"We will defend the light car segment because we are dominant there," explained HADA chief executive CK Liew. "We will not allow other franchises to take away our sales from that segment, because if you lose it, it will cost you much more to get it back."The price realignment sees the base model Getz three-door hatchback manual drop from $14,990 drive-away to $13,990 with free air-conditioning. With a-c previously valued at $1800 that adds up to a saving of close to $1000.

The only places where this doesn't apply is South Australia and the Northern Territory where the entry-level three-door Getz is now a recommended $13,990 drive-away. All other pricing stays as before in SA and NT.

Full pricing changes are detailed in the panel below.

The pricing, which is in place at least until the end of summer, was released less than one week after high profile HADA marketing general manager Peter Evans resigned, citing "professional differences" over the direction of the company.

However, the re-pricing of Getz was believed to be a decision Mr Evans supported.

Rivals putting the Getz under pressure included Daewoo (Lanos), Kia (Rio), Mitsubishi (Mirage) Toyota (Echo) and even the run-out Mazda 121.

"We underestimated the aggressiveness of our competitors," Mr Liew admitted. "No-one in their right mind would have expected Mirage to drop by $1500.

"We can either try to hold the high ground, knowing very well that the buyer's are very cost conscious and watch our share being eroded, or we can meet the challenge head-on."Mr Liew understood the perception that the reversion to $13,990 pricing - albeit without drive-away - potentially damaged Hyundai's desire to reposition itself upmarket in Australia.

"At the end of the day I am a businessman. I have to sell cars and make a reasonable return for my shareholders," he said.

Mr Liew said supply constraints should free-up with 1500-2000 Getz available per month from November onwards. That means Hyundai will sell around 40,000 cars again in 2002, despite a product explosion that has added the Santa Fe and Terracan off-roaders, the Trajet people-mover and Tiburon sports car in recent years, as well as an updated Sonata and the Lantra replacement, the Elantra.

But with the arrival of the 1.6-litre Accent in the first quarter of 2003, the 3.5-litre V6 Grandeur in the second quarter, the facelifted Elantra in the fourth quarter and - possibly - the all-new MAV soft-roader in the fourth quarter as well, Mr Liew is looking to achieve 45,000 in 2003.

"You can't get impatient, this is a long haul," Mr Liew said. "It's taking longer than it should but having said that it took Nissan about four years to make a comeback. So you cannot get impatient because it does not happen overnight."* Daihatsu is also getting in on the cut-price act, offering the Sirion 1.0L manual for $13,990 drive-away with free air-conditioning until December 31. Normal pricing is $12,990 plus on-road costs and $1530 for air-conditioning.

The Terios DX soft-roader is also being offered for $18,990* drive-away. The DX usually retails for $18,790 plus on-roads. Air-conditioning is already standard.

Getz pricing - Old and New
Hyundai Getz 3-door was $14,990 d/a is $13,990 with free air-conditioning
Hyundai Getz 5-door was $16,990 d/a is $15,990 with free air-conditioning
Hyundai Getz FX was $19,990 d/a is $17,990 (already included a-c)Auto transmission remains an $1863 option

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