Hyundai Is In The Midst Of An Apocalypse And SUVs Can't Save It


Well, at least the SUVs it's building now.

Take a drive down any American highway and chances are you’ll be hard pressed to find a road where a Hyundai isn’t present. The Korean automaker is still not seen in the same light as giants like Toyota, but its heavy advance in sales has propelled it to become the seventh highest-selling automaker in the US, doubling its sales between 2008 and 2016. But now it’s in a serious slump that it hopes to escape with new SUVs. However, The Truth About Cars is skeptical that more SUVs are actually what Hyundai needs.

So just how bad are things at Hyundai? Fortune reports that sales in May had dropped 15.5%, far more than the 1% drop across the industry, making Hyundai the worst performer amongst US sellers. That trend goes back months, with the automaker seeing year to year losses since December. If Ford was ready to oust Mark Fields for its failings, you’d better believe Hyundai was pulling out the scissors too. First to go was U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski in December followed this June by vice president for sales in America, Derrick Hatami. It’s clear something needs to change. Until now, Hyundai has relied on moving large numbers of its bargain priced sedans and compacts, and we all know where sales in those segments are heading.

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But that’s not to say it’s lacking in the SUV department, at least when it comes to quantity. Three SUVs, the small Tucson, mid-sized SantaFe Sport, and three-row SantaFe match Honda’s crossover lineup, which consists of the HR-V, CR-V, and stubby-looking Pilot. In the pipeline is the new compact Kona crossover, which will undoubtedly pick up the pace at the dealerships, but TTAC postulates that it’s the age of the rest of the lineup that’s to blame. A fresh set of competitive SUVs would sure be a boon to sales, but our impression is that Hyundai needs to spend time learning a thing or two about quality. The SUV segment is as competitive as it gets and every leg up is needed to succeed.