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Huge model rollout to lead Hyundai forward

HMCA optimistic about post-pandemic trading with 18 new models over next 18 months

30 Jun 2020

HYUNDAI is counting on 18 all-new or facelifted models to be launched in Australia over the next 18 months to help trade its way to recovery in the aftermath of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the current economic recession.


While cautious about detailing the company’s targeted sales and financial turnaround after suffering a 34 per cent sales downturn in the first five months of this year, Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) chief operating officer John Kett is confident that a dynamic and proactive approach with an appealing, innovative and relevant model line-up will assist in rebuilding momentum.


He also said HMCA was currently anticipating the overall industry would suffer a sales decline of about 20 per cent this calendar year, taking new-vehicle registrations down to about 850,000.


“When we add up all of our products, and think about how they all succeeded, then we’ll be able to really hold our scale and really hold our scale strongly next year,” Mr Kett told GoAuto at an HMCA future-model briefing in Sydney last week.


“When we talk about the scale of our volume for next year, it will still be largely based around the i30, Kona and Tucson, and to a lesser degree the Santa Fe and Palisade (flagship SUV due late 2020).”


Three of the key volume sellers – the i30 small car, Kona small SUV and Santa Fe medium/large SUV – will each receive a significant facelift and upgrades by the end of this year or by mid-2021 for Kona, while the Tucson mid-size SUV will be completely redesigned and re-engineered from the ground up in the first quarter of next year as it attempts to regain ground lost to the runaway-success Toyota RAV4.


Furthermore, much bolder replacements for the Elantra small sedan and Sonata mid-size passenger car will surface in the final quarter of this year, with the former switching to the i30 nameplate to more closely align it with Hyundai’s best-seller.


Rounding out the rollcall of 18 newcomers by the end of 2021 will be an additional eco model to sit above the electrified Ioniq range, potentially based on the retro-themed all-electric Hyundai 45 compact crossover concept that debuted at the Frankfurt motor show last September.


Overseas executives have confirmed a production version of the 45 is coming, followed by an electric sportscar based on the Prophecy shown earlier this year.


A host of mostly unconfirmed performance models wearing the N-Line or hardcore N moniker are also anticipated, including the all-new i20 N hot-hatch just announced for launch early next year, as well as expected racier grades for Kona, Tucson and even Santa Fe, according to overseas reports.


Mr Kett said that with the new-model deluge kicking off later this year, HMCA entered 2020 preparing for only a modest sales decline – due in part to the loss of volume with the demise of the robust Accent light car, which ended up dominating its segment despite being older than most rivals like the Mazda2. However, that was before COVID-19 struck.


“Initially we thought the market would be down 10 per cent year-on-year as we went into this year,” he said.


“We were somewhat hopeful that, based on the sheer macroeconomic indicators that were suggested to come into the market say in the second half of the year, that we might see some of that decline disappear, meaning we would have exited 2020 not quite 10 per cent down, and that would have been a positive time for us because we were always launching our portfolio towards the end of the year.”


After the horror first half to the year that had pushed the overall industry down 24 per cent to the end of May, Mr Kett believes the market will recover slightly but still finish the calendar year at about 20 per cent down over 2019, from just under 1,063,000 units to about 850,000.


“We’ve got to the point now, where we understand COVID-19 the best we can, that any year-on-year or accumulated year-on-year difference that is greater than 10 per cent we probably attribute to COVID-19 and everything else to the sheer structural challenges that the industry was facing (prior to that),” he said.


“But we are doing it month-by-month. We just had a conversation yesterday, just reassessing where the industry is heading, what segments it is heading in, to understand the circumstances we are operating in.


“In April, during our saddest moments, we were looking at an industry of 750,000, and now we can see anything between 825,000 to 850,000 for the year, and that’s sort of where we’ve pitched it.”


Despite positive signs that the worst may be over, Mr Lett revealed that HMCA is taking a wait-and-see approach, saying there are too many unknowns surrounding the planned cessation from September of the various federal and state government economic stimulus packages to help weather the massive economic impact of COVID-19.


“The next real touchpoint for us is that we need to get through and understand all the assistance related to the September JobSeeker and JobKeeper, deferred payments on mortgages or credit cards or rental properties etc, to really get a sense of what’s the true underlying economic activity that’s going on in the marketplace – and we’ll reassess from there,” he said.


“Even June being a lot stronger than most people think, we’re just going to keep the year as it is, and just reduce the latter to the end to get a better sense of what Q4 will be.


“We’re well positioned in our supply chain, we feel good about our demand profile at the moment across of our cars, we feel that we are priced well in the marketplace, and we feel we’re getting our fair share, but that’s all we’re simply monitoring at the moment.”

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