With Australia’s April 2011 new car sales figures putting South Korean giant Hyundai Motor Company Australia in third place with 6857 vehicles sold (behind Toyota with 13,683 and Holden with 9113), CarAdvice was curious to find out what the company has in mind for the future and whether or not we are going to see a podium finish more often. We recently caught up with Oliver Mann, Director of Marketing at Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA), for a quick Q&A – minus Tony Jones and the real-time Twitter feed.
1. How far do you think Hyundai has come in the past five years?
In the past five years, Hyundai has worked very hard to secure the best possible product range for the Australian market. As our product range has developed in the market, we have also been working to develop the brand through our marketing programmes. One of the most important factors in moving forwards has been the Australian Hyundai dealer network. Over the last five years, the Hyundai network has grown with us to the point where we have dealers who are passionate about the Hyundai brand and understand our products’ potential. It has been an exciting journey so far and it will undoubtedly continue to be so for many years to come.
2. Given there are four new models set for launch this year, do you see the potential to stay in the top three more regularly?
The evergreen Getz will soon depart from the new car market, and we hope to welcome an array of exciting new cars in the second half of 2011: the all-new Elantra, all-new Accent, all-new i40 wagon and the stunning Veloster. Each of these products will bring a flavor of Hyundai’s ‘New Thinking. New Possibilities.’ brand philosophy to our market.
3. Does Hyundai have a goal to become the biggest importer of vehicles in Australia?
Hyundai’s goal is to become the brand most appreciated by its customers. Obviously we plan to continue our growth in Australia, but the focus is on growing the quality of our business rather than simply the sales numbers.
4. The Getz has been a great contributor to your sales volume. How much life is left in the current model and what does the post-Getz future hold for HMCA?
Since its local launch in September 2002, over 153,000 Getz have been sold over the course of its nine-year lifespan in Australia, and we expect existing stocks to run out in the middle of the year. We launched the award winning i20 light hatch mid way through last year and we will bring the new Accent to market this year. We believe that combined with the multi-award winning i30 range, we will offer a fresh and exciting light and small car range for today’s Australian car buyers.
5. Hyundai’s rapid growth in the past few years has been phenomenal. At what point do you expect to peak or hit the ceiling?
You’re right. Hyundai is growing quickly in a global sense, and we have seen Australian sales increase dramatically over the last two years (up +39.2 percent in 2009 and +26.6 percent in 2010). Realistically this level of growth cannot be sustained, but we are determined to continue to move forwards and not backwards this year. For our growth to be sustainable we have been focusing on enhancing our customer experience – for example through the introduction of a touch point for customers called ‘myHyundai’.
6. At the recent New York International Auto Show, Hyundai made a lot of noise about the fact that it had four 40 MPG (5.8L/100km) vehicles in its range. Will there be a stronger push from HMCA in promoting fuel economy in the near future?
Hyundai is already America’s most fuel efficient auto manufacturer, and we have announced plans to extend this leadership with a target corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rating of at least 4.7 l/100km (50 US mpg) by 2025. It’s a message clearly resonating in the US market right now. Here in Australia, Hyundai is already renowned for low operating costs, which have been independently verified by Australia’s motoring club organizations. We’ll continue to promote our leadership in this area – some examples being the i20 drive from Sydney to Bundaberg on one tank of fuel last year and the recent ix35 journalist fuel economy challenge. But it’s fair to say we also have some other very exciting stories to tell about our cars – now and in the future.
7. Is Hyundai planning on performance focused models of the Veloster and dedicated sports cars in the near future?
We’re hoping Veloster will hit our shores before the end of 2011, and we’ll share our plans at that time…
8. What, in your opinion, were the contributing factors to April’s sales success?
There’s no question that Australian new car buyers are taking to Hyundai like never before. It’s a reflection of the quality of our cars – with Hyundai today offering a wide range of highly competitive vehicles. We have good supply of almost all model variants, and that certainly helps. But above all, those who consider and choose to drive a Hyundai understand the excellence of our cars, and our dealer partners are expressing their commitment to the Hyundai brand through investments in high quality people, facilities and processes.
Back in 2005 Hyundai sold a respectable 48,010 vehicles in Australia, but no one could have predicted that in just five years that number would climb to 80,038 (2010). Despite the sales success, the dynamics of the new car market is ever-changing with increased competition from Asia and Europe, so it’s difficult to predict where the Korean company will be in another five years time.
On another note, more than 25 percent of Hyundai’s April sales figures were thanks to the Getz (1,717 units), which means the model outsold the recently launched Hyundai i20 by almost five units to one. Will the company be as successful (from a units sold per month perspective) in the post-Getz era? Only time will tell.
Now we want to know what you think of Hyundai. Has your perception of the brand changed in the past five years? If you own a Hyundai currently please tell us of your experience and if you’re planning/or not planning on buying one, also tell us why. As always, CarAdvice welcomes your comments and opinions.