Despite a record year of sales for the South Korean brand, Hyundai’s large SUV, the Santa Fe and its new offering in the medium car segment, the Sonata, have fallen short of making a big impact in their respective segments.
Hyundai says it expects the overall new car market to be close to a record year in 2015, potentially breaking the 2013 total of 1.136m, which should see the brand improve on its 100,011 sales tally from 2014. But two segments where Hyundai remains largely flat are large SUVs and medium cars.
In the first half of 2015, the Santa Fe managed 3549 sales, beaten by the Toyota Prado (7872), Kluger (6780), Jeep Grand Cherokee (6441), Subaru Outback (5465) and the ageing Holden Captiva 7 (5110) and Ford Territory (4760).
Compared to last year, Santa Fe sales are up 11.6 percent year on year, while the large SUV segment has seen a 7.5 percent increase.
Meanwhile, the new Sonata (which launched in February) has scored 696 sales, which even when combined with the i40 wagon (1045), puts it behind the Toyota Camry (10,426), Mazda 6 (2857) and Subaru Liberty (2105).
Talking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Hyundai Tuscon in Thredbo this week, the company’s chief operating officer, John Elsworth, said that Santa Fe remains a balancing act for profit versus volume, while the Sonata suffers from Toyota’s pricing strategy with the Camry and a shrinking segment in general.
“We don’t necessarily push the car.” Ellsworth told CarAdvice in regards to the Santa Fe.
“There’s never really a big discounting push with Santa Fe from our point of view. We manage it, it’s a car that is quite profitable from our point of view so we are careful to manage the profitability side of it. We don’t want to push too much volume and have to discount them all.”
Elsworth said the sales increase wouldn’t be enough to chase that extra bit of volume at the expense of better margins.
“It’s just a balance. We could probably try and sell a 100 or 50 more a month, but you really have to aggressively discount everything.”
As for the Sonata, Ellsworth believes the Toyota Camry tends to distort that segment.
“We are forth in the segment when you add in i40. People go, 'things aren’t going that well…' but if you take out Camry - it’s pretty unusual what they are doing in regards to pricing - it’s really quite compressed under that. Are we failing? I don’t know, it’s just the segment.”
Hyundai will have to find other models, such as the new Tucson, to continue its sales growth this year, which is further complicated by the discontinuation of the popular i20.