Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Hyundai's Hunger Leading to Big Bites


"They are on the prowl, and they're not gonna stop."

It was the strongest statement my friend, a long time auto industry veteran made during a recent meeting we had to discuss who's up, who's down, and who we should be watching closest.  His assessment, hands down, was Hyundai.  When he said Hyundai is coming strong, I have to admit I wasn't surprised.  But the Koreans are just getting started.


Hyundai is picking up market share here in the U.S. thanks to a potent combination of much better product (both in terms of quality and styling) and savvy marketing.  A company that was once dismissed as weak imitator of the Japanese automakers is now taking it to the folks from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.

And it shows now sign of slowing down.

So far this year, Hyundai is down 0.3% while its competitors are all down more than 20%.  It's picked up 1.2% market share and now has 4.4% in the U.S. According to AutoData.  In the auto business, gaining 1.2% share, even off a low base, is astounding.  For comparison, the other major automakers growing this year are:  Ford (up 0.8%), Volkswagen (up 0.6%) and Honda (up 0.3%), and BMW, Mercedes, and Mazda all up a tenth of a percent.

What impressed my friend, who has worked with many automakers over the last 20 years, is the fact Hyundai is hungry for more.  And it will likely stay on a roll since it has yet to enter or has a limited presence in many segments.  Stealing a page out of the Toyota playbook, Hyundai will be aggressive with the product and the promotion. 

On that last point, Hyundai's job guarantee promotion turned out to be a huge winner because it generated traffic and worked to change perceptions about the automaker.  Look for more unique programs like that.

As my friend said that day, "Hyundai is not slowing down, you watch.” We will.

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