Hyundai sales rise during 2009 auto crisis
Los Angeles -- Hyundai Motors Co. can claim something no other major carmaker can: It sold more cars in 2009 than it did in 2008.
While automotive sales industrywide have fallen by 23.9 percent in the U.S. and carmakers struggle to survive, Hyundai has thrived.
"In 2009, we learned to never let a crisis go to waste," said John Krafcik, Hyundai U.S. president, paraphrasing a comment made famous last fall by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Hyundai holds 4.3 percent of the U.S. market, up from 3.1 percent through November 2008, according to Autodata Corp.
Its rise began in January when Hyundai launched its Assurance Program, which struck a chord with consumers facing economic uncertainty. The deal was simple: If a new car buyer lost a job, Hyundai would buy the vehicle back and there would be no mark on the buyer's credit.
Quick, clean and simple, the much-acclaimed program put Hyundai on many people's radar, industry analysts and Hyundai executives said.
"Hyundai was selling peace of mind during an uncertain time," said Aaron Bragman, an IHS Global Insight analyst.
The South Korean automaker has bought back fewer than 100 vehicles, and the program brought the company a large amount of good will from consumers, said Jim Trainer, a Hyundai spokesman.
Other car companies have tried to emulate the program with similar offers, but none has gained the same amount of traction.
"People saw assurance as quality, safety and a good feeling," Krafcik said.The company intends to capitalize on that impression.
For years, Hyundai struggled with its image as a company that copied other carmakers' designs while making poor quality vehicles, Krafcik said.
In recent years, however, the automaker has created critically acclaimed, original vehicles that have earned high quality ratings and praise from critics and customers alike.
"Hyundai has a lot of momentum going for it right now," Bragman said.
With new and redesigned vehicles, such as the Hyundai Tuscon crossover rolling into dealers now and the midsize Hyundai Sonata coming next year, Hyundai will have a new products arriving at the right time, he said.
And it doesn't appear that Hyundai intends to ease its assault.
Krafcik said that in the coming months, the carmaker will expand its Assurance Program, though Hyundai officials declined to provide specifics.
The automaker, experts said, remains in a good position despite the floundering economy.
"Hyundai is a real threat to the Japanese carmakers because its products appeal to younger consumers who have no loyalty to Toyota or Honda," Bragman said.
Tops in fuel economy
Also in Hyundai's favor is its fuel economy ratings.
Hyundai beat Honda Motor Co. for the No. 1 spot in fleet fuel economy this year.
"That's only going to get better in the coming years," as the company promotes its environmental prowess, Krafcik said.
Hyundai, of course, does not have a full lineup that includes gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups. It sells only a few V-8 equipped vehicles and has announced some of its new vehicles, such as the Tucson, will only come with four-cylinder engines.
In the future, Hyundai will introduce a few gas-electric hybrids and promote it efficient direct-injection gas four-cylinder engines.
"We going to be a leader in fuel economy," Krafcik said, "but we're going to do the Hyundai way."
Hyundai sales rise during 2009 auto crisis | detnews.com | The Detroit News
Around here they say "Hondai" trying I guess to make it sound like "Honda" in their ads. I guess now if Hyundi is ahead in sales, Honda will have to make theirs sound like Hyundi.
What should be more upsetting to the competition are the new Hyundai/Kia models due in the showrooms in the next couple of months. They are pretty great looking cars including a Tucson and Sonata, both aimed at Toyota and GMs breadbaskets (Malibu, Camry, Equinox, RAV4).
I read where Kia is opening a new USA plant in the Southeast .
I watched the closing day of a large electrical component plant a couple months ago .200 people laid off ,I bet 60 % we're driving foreign made vehicles.
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