The Korean automaker has its back against the ropes, but will this be enough to save it from exiting the US market?
If Tyler Durden enjoyed smashing the headlights of Volkswagen Beetles and BMW 5 Series’ because they were a reflection of a society obsessed with symbols of success, then does that mean Hyundais are safe? If he studied the South Korean automaker’s latest sales numbers, they might just be. That’s because Hyundai’s sales have recently been relegated to the gutter, a problem that stems from a US market that’s become obsessed with crossover SUVs and Hyundai’s reliance on passenger sedans for sales.
However years down the line, provided that Hyundai’s plans brought to surface in Bloomberg's latest scoop, go right, that downward trend may not continue. With eyes on the ultimate prize: acceptance and subsequent sales from American car buyers, Hyundai has set plans in motion to release eight crossovers and SUVs to the market by 2020. That’s quite a lot of sheet metal, but then again Hyundai needs all the help it can get and American buyers have been anything but shy when it comes to crossovers. “Hyundai’s American management has been screaming for more CUVs and more trucks for years,” said Alan Baum, an independent auto analyst, to Bloomberg.
“They tried to take what worked in their home market in Korea and apply it to North America. It hasn’t been very effective.” In total, Hyundai has seen a sales decline of 13%, an amount that’s considered catastrophic for the auto industry, especially if left unchecked. The stopgap will come in the form of a new Hyundai Kona for America, a vehicle it already sells in Korea, as well as updated versions of the Tucson and Santa Fe. Among the other SUVs will be a diesel model, electric versions to tackle the oncoming EV onslaught from just about every other automaker, and hydrogen fuel cell powered versions of those to challenge Toyota’s current propulsion paradigm.
One interesting new pick will be a Santa Cruz Concept-based pickup truck, which could recapture the attention of Americans who buy into this segment in droves. With luck and a bit of skillful maneuvering, this could be the move that stops Hyundai from walking out of the US market with its tail between its legs.