The company has come a long way from the Pony.
Hyundai's days of being a budget brand seem to be over, as the company's innovative technology and attractive style have boosted the brand's value in recent years. The company can trace its roots back to 1986, when it was launched as a "value" brand that became known for undercutting all of its competitors, but has managed to change that script over time.
The company decided about a decade ago that things had to change, which lead to some major changes at the company that brought about some amazing vehicles like the Palisade, Elantra N, and Ioniq 5. Automotive News recently spoke with Kevin Reilly, Hyundai National Dealer Council chairman, about the brand's revitalization, and what this means for the nation's 800 dealers.
"The way Hyundai provides value to customers is not so much having a lower transaction price," said Reilly, "but what it gives customers in terms of styling and content for that particular dollar."
Reilly believes that this move upmarket isn't going to leave room for a new competitor to come in and undermine its market share. There are worries that an upstart Chinese brand could see this as their opportunity to get in on the American market, but Reilly says he doesn't think this will be the case.
"I would say emphatically no," Reilly said. "Just knowing the passion that drives the whole Hyundai network, from Korea to America, and how forward-thinking they are, they never sleep.
I can text [Hyundai COO] Jose Munoz on a Sunday and he'll text me right back. They work 24/7 and they are committed to delivering the best product in the marketplace."
The results do speak for themselves because the cars today really are great. Owners have been praising how the cars are feeling more upscale and technologically advanced compared to their competitors. This is reflected in the car's pricing, with four Hyundai vehicles able to be optioned over $50,000, with the Nexo pushing past $60,000.
This isn't to say the company has been without its issues. Over the past couple of years major issues regarding the brand's reliability, specifically the engine, and more recently with an exploit being used by thieves to steal certain Hyundai and Kia models at truly alarming rates.
Despite all this, Reilly is still really proud of the brand he's been with for over 23 years. He's seen how it's changed, and how far it's come, "I take special pride in the transformation of the brand…I have been able to see it just by the customer base that is coming to the Hyundai brand right now, which is completely different than when we were the value brand."
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