The Korean automaker is scrambling for sales, but is this the way to do it?
Tesla and Hyundai are car companies that best exemplify the two main ways to break into a new auto market. Tesla began its US market intrusion with a top-down approach, offering six-figure roadsters, sedans, and SUVs before extending its reach into the lower-profit margin but more impactful passenger car segment. Hyundai, on the other hand, started at the bottom with cars aimed at the bargain shoppers, but now that the economy is humming along, it’s having trouble.
That’s because cheap gas and more spending money has pushed drivers into larger more expensive cars lined with luxury options, and Hyundai is doing its best to play catch-up. Straight from the Reuters information pipeline comes further confirmation of news we expected all along: that Hyundai would put the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept unveiled during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show into production. Woah Nelly, seems there’s no pulling back on the reins for Hyundai, but that’s all for a good reason. The brand’s recent slip in the US can be attributed to not having enough luxury cars, SUVs, and of course, zero trucks. To play in the American league, all three of those are requirements.
That rule is increasingly true in China as well, the world’s largest auto market, so Hyundai is putting a massive effort into pivoting to meet these demands by bringing the small Kona SUV to the market later this year (at least in the US) and by launching three new or refreshed SUVs by 2020. There’s no mention of when the Santa Cruz pick would be making it to market, but the one thing nobody can deny is that Hyundai will be facing steep competition. Given that its truck will likely feature unibody construction—at least if it’s based on the concept—it won’t compete with the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, or Ram, all three of which seem to have an ability to swat foreign competitors to the wayside.
Instead, it’ll go against smaller trucks like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado. With Ford preparing a new Ranger for release, the segment will once again be crowded. It’s there in that small space that Hyundai hopes to gain traction with Americans. Armed with a truck and upcoming SUV models, Hyundai does seem to be feeling good about itself.“We are optimistic about the future," Scott Fink, chief executive of Hyundai of New Port Richey, Florida, which is Hyundai's biggest U.S. dealer, said. "But we are disappointed that we don't have the products today.” Despite using a different market entry method as Tesla, both automakers, it seems, are faced with the monumental task of getting production to match demand.