Ordinarily, the start of production at an auto plant wouldn't get much attention. But today Hyundai started building the Solaris at its brand new plant in Saint Petersburg, Russia and the implications for other auto makers is worth noting.
It's another brick in the BRIC wall Hyundai is erecting in the fast growing BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) markets. And with each brick in the BRIC wall, Hyundai is sending a message to GM, Toyota and Volkswagen.
The message: "We're coming on fast with a line-up and network that will take sales and business from the big boys."
With its new plant in Russia and one on the way in Brazil, Hyundai has positioned itself to further ramp up global sales that have already been red-hot. Sure, most Americans are just starting to wake-up to the improved line-up and quality from Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia, but overseas this is a well known story. As one executive put it to me, "Hyundai is smart, aggressive and playing the global market better than anyone else."
If Hyundai is thriving around the world it's partially due to the fact it laid the groundwork for its success in backwater markets others scoffed at. Go to the Middle East, Eastern Europe, or India and what do you find? Hyundai models all over the place. The Korean automaker grew up, learned how to improve its quality and how to grow sales in developing countries while others have been less consistent in those emerging markets. Now, with a solid foundation built, Hyundai is erecting its BRIC wall.
And don't think they haven't noticed in Detroit and Japan. Do you think it's just a coincidence Ford CEO Alan Mulally has referenced Hyundai when talking about his competitors? Not a chance. Mulally and his team know they've got a dog fight on their hands with Hyundai, both here in the U.S. and overseas.
Like I said. Ordinarily a new plant in Russia wouldn't get much attention. But this is not just another plant. It's another BRIC in the wall for Hyundai.
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