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What recession? Hyundai bucks the trend

On the up: Hyundai will attempt to keep the good times rolling with the release of new models such as the i20.

Korea’s Hyundai makes hay while others fight for survival

6 Mar 2009

KOREA’S Hyundai Motor Company is powering against the economic tide, holding or even increasing sales volumes in markets around the world while many other major auto-makers simply struggle to survive.

On the back of a 6.8 per cent global sales increase last year, Hyundai’s charge continues this year, fired by affordable new models that hit the spot with many recession-wary consumers, plus greatly improved quality and a helpful Korean currency.

In Australia, Hyundai bucked the trend in February by increasing sales 3.5 per cent in a market that fell 21.9 per cent.

Its February share grew to 5.9 per cent – its best monthly share since December 2001. Year to date, Hyundai has increased its market share from 4.2 per cent at this time last year to 5.7 per cent – its best YTD performance since 2000.

Sales of its popular i30 small hatch were up a massive 79.6 per cent in February, compared with the same month last year. Year to date, the i30 is up 50.8 per cent, helped by a number of high-profile awards.

The i30, which gets a further boost with the release of the i30cw (crossover wagon) this month, racked up 1234 sales in February, making it the fourth best-selling small car behind the Toyota Corolla (2769), Mazda3 (2989) and Mitsubishi Lancer (1551).

Although Hyunda’s Getz sales volume slipped 1.4 per cent year on year in February, it increased its share of the light car segment from 13.5 per cent to 16.8 per cent this year, leapfrogging the class-leading Toyota Yaris into first place.

 center imageLeft: The Hyundai Genesis Coupe was shown at the Melbourne show. Bottom: The Hyundai i30cw goes on sale this month.

Further sales impetus is likely to come in the third quarter of this year with the release of Hyundai’s new Yaris competitor, the i20 five-door hatch, which Hyundai is previewing at the Melbourne motor show.

Like the i30, the i20 is a product of Hyundai’s European design studio at Russelsheim, Germany.

In the US, where the market was down 41 per cent in February and market leader General Motors slumped 53 per cent, Hyundai lost just 0.7 per cent of volume compared with last year.

Year to date, the Hyundai Group’s US sales are up 3.6 per cent, shrugging off the doom and gloom that has driven down the rest of the market by 39.4 per cent for the first two months of 2009.

Hyundai’s North American sales have been supported by the release of the flagship Genesis, which also has been a major hit in Hyundai’s home market in Korea.

While other manufacturers in the US have cut marketing budgets in the battle for survival, Hyundai used its relative strength to advantage by coming out with all guns blazing in advertising for the Genesis and other models, even advertising on the top-rating Superbowl football telecast – a hugely expensive exercise that struggling American car-makers balked at this year.

In the UK, where Hyundai has a small sales base, Hyundai’s range of light and small cars increased the marque’s volume and share in February, to 1885 units and 1.7 per cent.

While the figures are small compared with the big players, Hyundai was at least heading in the right direction in a market down 30 per cent.

In Hyundai’s biggest market – Korea – Hyundai domestic sales are down a relatively comfortable 6.1 per cent, while exports are down 2.3 per cent. Overall, Hyundai shipped 3.9 per cent fewer cars for the month, which is an enviable figure that rival manufacturers would love to emulate.

Read more:

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Melbourne show: Hyundai’s plethora of product

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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