Hyundai Australia is confident that changing the name of its brand new compact SUV from ix35, back to Tucson, will not have a negative impact on sales or marketing, despite the former's status as a top-seller.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Tucson this week, Hyundai Australia chief operating officer John Elsworth said all the company’s internal research showed the model name wasn’t a huge deal to new car buyers. This could be seen to run contrary to the notion of name equity being a crucial marketing tool.
“We have done a lot of product clinics but the first thing people will look at is the car, and whether the car is the right thing for them and then ‘what is it? Oh it’s a Tucson, ok so what?,” Elsworth said.
“The issue from a sales and marketing point of view is creating awareness for a new name so that’s just a marketing problem to solve. The name doesn’t usually hold much [value]…”
Elsworth admitted that the Tucson, which was previously sold in Australia in 2004-2010 in an older generation, has little brand recognition, but said the launch of the new car will require no larger budget to educate the market.
“We would’ve spent the same amount launching this car [as an ix35]. As marketing people argue that we needed the big ‘kaboom’ launch because it’s the brand new ix35 and we would’ve spent about the same money.
“I have heard that used many times when people launch new names but, the reality of life is that when you manage a business you just got a fixed amount of money that you can use to launch cars, so maybe it’s a little bit more but it’s nothing significant.”
A the end of its life, the Hyundai ix35 was the second-best selling SUV in Australia, behind the Mazda CX-5, and the single top-selling small SUV in a hugely competitive market, making the name change even more risky.
Elsworth said that the global decision was made and there was nothing Hyundai Australia could do about it even if it wanted to.
Pictured above: Hyundai ix35
“It’s a global decision, it happens at a big entity like Hyundai. So the decision is made globally and we fall in to line with that, it’s pretty simple," he said.
"We didn’t spend much time talking about it, because there’s no point, you get on with the task of solving the issue of creating awareness for a new car like Tucson rather than worrying about what would’ve been. The decision is made globally and we march on."
For background, the company has marketed the Tucson badge before, though in its last iteration launched in 2010, the car known as Tucson elsewhere wore ix35 badges here in Australia. It became the market's top-selling small SUV.
At the time, Hyundai explained that its model naming system would be done as such so that models destined for European markets would start with ‘i’ while models for the North American markets would have actual names.
Australia fell in the middle of that, as it took models destined for different markets around the globe, such as the i30 and Elantra, ix35 and Santa Fe. As with the ix35/Tucson, the briefly-on-sale i45 sedan was called Sonata elsewhere.
Now, in its global third-generation guise, the Tucson goes back to its first-generation name, a global decision that will also include Europe. This breaks the South Korean company’s original naming strategy, but unifies the naming structure of its models. A process that started with the new Sonata.
Does the name change from ix35 affect your perception of the new-generation Tucson?