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Hyundai speaks with a posh new Accent

Premium: New Accent's $1000-higher price pits it against Jazz, Swift, Fiesta.

The Japanese-Korean small-car divide no longer exists in Australia, says Hyundai

Hyundai logo25 May 2006

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) believes Australians are now ready to accept a Honda Jazz-priced Accent.

Launched last week, the new MC-series Accent’s $15,990 base pricing places the South Korean light car squarely against the Jazz, as well as the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Suzuki Swift. The outgoing Accent, the 2000-2006 LC, was positioned in the sub-$15,000 category at $14,990.

Hyundai is confident that light-car buyers will see and appreciate the space, safety and refinement progress the new Accent has made over the old model. It is also hoping Australians have short memories.

"New Accent is good enough to stand on its own two feet," said HMCA sales and marketing director Theo van Doore.

Before the factory-run HMCA acquired distribution rights from the Singaporean-based Astre Automotive in October 2003, the previous Accent was often sold at prices significantly below $14,990.

"(Before HMCA) the Accent’s pricing wasn’t consistent," said Mr van Doore. "One week it was $14,990 ‘drive-away’ – the next week it wasn’t, and the following week the then-optional air-conditioning was free.

"This sent the wrong signal out to buyers."HMCA told GoAuto last year that it would never again use "drive-away" pricing in its communication or advertising. At its new $15,990 price point, the company believes the latest Accent can maintain the old car’s monthly salesof 480 to 500 units.

However, it hopes that the new model will have "more of a retail focus and less of a rental focus".

HMCA wants the new Accent’s rental-to-private buyer ratio to shift from the current 50:50 to at least 40:60.

It is also confident that the market will make a clear distinction between Hyundai’s two-pronged light-car offerings.

"The Getz is aimed predominantly at girls and the Accent predominately at boys," said Mr van Doore. "So we expect little to no erosion to Getz sales because of the different demographic."The previous Accent’s buyer profile was around 65 per cent male, skewed towards the over-50 age group. Hyundai hopes to lower the latter to include men in their early 20s.

To that end, Hyundai has enlisted pay TV music channel MTV’s "Pimp My Ride" vehicle customisation program, which is popular with the demographic the company is seeking.

A higher-series Accent with a sportier focus in the mould of the recently introduced Getz SXi is in the pipeline for budding boy-racers out there.

Mr van Doore also revealed that some of Hyundai’s Australian dealers were "crying out" for a sporty hatchback version of the Accent. This comes hot off the heels of the turbocharged Accent SR shown at recent Australian motor shows.

"Dealers assure me that we can sell something like that for around $25,000," he said.

Hyundai’s move into rallying from 2008 will further add to its sporting credentials to its desired male demographic audience, while a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel Accent is under consideration.

Underpinning the new Accent’s ascent is HMCA’s new advertising slogan. Gone is the Australia-only "Future Driven" campaign, for the more customer-centric "Drive Your Way" slogan.

In line with its global communications strategy, "Drive Your Way" aims to shift the focus from the company to the consumer, backed by favourable customer satisfaction surveys abroad as well as HMCA’s five-year/130,000km warranty.

The company said the time was now right for the next phase after almost two years of "Future Driven", which it said did the job of re-introducing Hyundai in Australia following its 2003 HMCA rebirth.

"It challenges perceptions about quality – changing the outdated image of Hyundai," HMCA’s new chief executive Sudong "Steve" Yeo said.

According to Mr Yeo, the level of service the dealers give to the customers must match the higher level of quality the latest range of Hyundai vehicles have attained over the past few years.

He is particularly keen to ensure that the multi-franchise dealers treat the Hyundai brand with equal high respect.

Meanwhile, with the latest Accent’s arrival, Hyundai has taken the opportunity to realign Getz prices.

All bar the SXi rise by $500, bringing the base 1.4 to $13,990. The Getz 1.6 is now $14,990 – the old Accent’s price point entry.

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