The automotive industry is fast paced and cut-throat competitive, at the mercy of a fickle consumer market. But one car company seems to have figured out a recipe for success.
Back in January of this year, Hyundai unveiled a new brand direction: create a “Modern Premium” car big on quality and low on cost, without unnecessary bells and whistles. A car that “reflects [customer’s] values and the times in which they live,” said Euisun Chung, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
And this new strategy is clearly working. Hyundai is reporting an all-time sales record, with close to two million cars sold worldwide in the first six months of 2011, up 11 percent from last year, and boosted by the launch of new models. The Hyundai Accent is now America’s best-selling sub-compact car, outselling the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta.
The Sonata, Elantra and Accent are good looking cars, they handle well and come at the right price—the 10-year 100,000-mile warranty doesn’t hurt either. But key to the success of the Hyundai brand is fuel economy.
Hyundai has benefited from American consumers’ push for fuel economy, and 40 percent of Hyundai vehicles sold in June 2011 achieved 40 MPG fuel economy. This month Interbrand, a global brand consultancy, ranked Hyundai as one of the world’s greenest brands—Toyota was ranked number one—citing the automaker’s Blue Drive eco-friendly strategy and its industry leadership in zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle development.
“The best way to reduce America’s fuel consumption is to put more fuel-efficient vehicles in American driveways, right now,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s president and CEO, as reported in USA Today.
Krafcik believes the best way to do that is mass produce the most efficient technologies—like direct-injected engines and 6-speed transmissions—and deploy them as standard equipment, not expensive options.
Hyundai is already well on its way to meeting the new 54.5 miles per gallon fuel efficiency agreement laid out by President Obama a few weeks ago. While other manufacturers are faced with the prospect of discontinuing production of larger vehicles—costing them money, time and jobs—Hyundai is free to charge ahead in innovation.
Stay tuned for the release of Hyundai’s 40 MPG Veloster—a new sporty model—due for release later this month or early September.