Archive for July, 2011

Hyundai Takes Top Spot in Brand Loyalty

Long ago known for its “cheap” cars, it’s no secret that Hyundai has gone through a complete image overhaul, attracting new customers right and left with its sharply designed and reasonably priced cars.  But almost as important as winning new followers is retaining current ones, and Hyundai’s got that covered too.

In a recent second quarter market analysis by Kelley Blue Book, Hyundai was found to be number one in brand loyalty, edging out traditional competitors like Honda and Toyota.  While not the first time Hyundai has topped this list, it is the brand’s first time dominating the spot for an entire quarter.  Especially notable is that Hyundai is maintaining this momentum at a time when overall brand loyalty fell for most brands in the past year, due to factors like economy, recalls, and fuel prices.  Toyota slipped from the top spot to number three, with Honda holding close at second.

1.    Hyundai, 52.3%
2.    Honda, 49.7%
3.    Toyota, 47.7%
4.    Ford, 45.4%
5.    Subaru, 44.8%

The secret of Hyundai’s success?  Kelley Blue Book attributes it to Hyundai’s aggressive marketing efforts and new products.   Executive analyst Jack Nerad says, “Hyundai has done a great job of broadening the product line and ensuring high quality. The warranties are also a strong factor, because they bring people back to the brand and let them rest easy.” Whatever the reasons, the results are clear.  Hyundai not only provides exciting options for newcomers to the brand, it also has the substance to keep customers coming back.

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Hyundai Sells 100,000th 40 MPG Vehicle

Fourth of July weekend prompted an additional reason to celebrate aside from the nation’s birthday – It also marked the milestone of Hyundai selling its 100,000th vehicle achieving 40 miles per gallon highway fuel economy. Hyundai outsold all other automakers’ 40 mpg offerings this year, with 29% of its sales volume falling in this 40 mpg category, a number that skyrocketed to 40% in the month of June.

Hyundai’s “4×40” strategy includes four models that reach 40 mpg standard this year, including the Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, the all-new 2012 Accent, and the Veloster, a new model arriving this fall. The Elantra kicked off this sales strategy in December 2010, setting a sales pace that was 79% ahead of last year, paving the way for the Sonata Hybrid and Accent which followed in 2011. With the youthful and fun  Veloster yet to come, Hyundai is positioned to grow its 40 mpg sales volume even more significantly through the end of the year.

While four models achieving 40 mpg is quite impressive on its own, Hyundai sees this as just the beginning, setting its sights on at least 50 mpg corporate average fuel economy by 2025.  The automaker is already on the right track, using a mix of technologies to improve the efficiency of the standard, internal combustion engine vehicles, combined with the smart application of hybrid technology.  It seems pretty certain that we can expect additional fireworks from Hyundai in the future.

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Hyundai Surges Forward with Two New Models and Luxury Car Strategy

South Korean automaker, Hyundai, has been on a quiet and unassuming path of success of late, unfazed by bigtime competitors like Ford and Honda. Though, it’s starting to be apparent that the competitors should be fazed by Hyundai.

For starters, Hyundai has seen great success across the spectrum with quality vehicles ranging from small cars to luxury sedans, and we’re seeing new releases from both ends this year. The 2012 Accent is a small car boasting 40 MPG that will contend strongly against the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. On the luxury end, the Genesis will also have a facelifted version for 2012 with sleeker styling, a more powerful engine and new eightspeed automatic transmission. These new releases come on the heels of existing frontrunners in the Hyundai lineup, the highly acclaimed Elantra and Sonata, the latter of which outsold all other midsize family sedans in the May 2011.

And the numbers don’t lie.  In the first five months of the year, Hyundai and its affiliate Kia together added 1.4 points of U.S. market share, compared with a collective gain of 0.9 points for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.  These reports become all the more impressive when you take into account Hyundai’s markedly smaller base:  Hyundai and Kia only account for 8.8% of the market, compared to Detroit-based automakers’ 46.2%.

Hyundai’s rise is not just attributed to its supremely quality vehicles; the company has made some bold business moves as well.  At the forefront is Hyundai’s Assurance Program, which was originally launched in 2009 as a program to guarantee car payments for buyers in the event that they lost their job. Now revamped to guarantee a vehicle’s trade-in value for four years from the day it’s bought, the Hyundai Assurance Program translates to more sales and loyal customers.

Hyundai has also taken a unique approach to its luxury car strategy.  Instead of shelling out the costs to set up a separate brand and dealer network for its luxury vehicles, the Genesis and Equus are sold alongside Hyundai’s more economically priced cars.  Both luxury vehicles have returned excellent sales figures, showing Hyundai’s ability to turn necessity into virtue.

Bottom line:  Look out, Goliath. Here comes David.

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New Jobs and New Life for the Auto Industry

It’s no understatement to say that the auto industry has been through some dark times in the past few years.  Along with the recession over the economy as a whole, automakers experienced particularly dismal events like government bailouts, bankruptcies, 30-year-low sales figures, spiking gas prices, and the loss of one in four jobs.  However, recent reports show that things are finally looking up for the auto industry.

For starters, hiring within the auto industry is back on the rise, and it’s growing faster than big players like airplane manufacturers, health care providers, shipbuilders, and the federal government.  Automaker employment is up twelve percent since June 2009, which is particularly notable when compared with only a 0.2% gain in the economy as a whole in that same time frame.

The increase in manufacturing jobs provides a ripple effect to other areas of the industry, and the Center for Automotive Research estimates that every new auto manufacturing job leads to nine other jobs.  In the wake of new jobs at assembly plants comes a need for parts manufacturers, parts suppliers, and even restaurants to feed the new influx of workers.  This ripple effect will certainly come into play in places like Tennessee, where Volkswagen just opened a new plant with 2000 workers to manufacture its new Passat, and in Detroit, where GM hired 2,500 employees to build the new Chevrolet Volt.

The spike in hiring can be traced to a sizable increase in car sales over the last few years.  Americans bought 10.4 million cars and trucks in 2009, 11.6 million in 2010, they’re on track to buy 13 million or more in 2011.  This trend is comforting after a time of recession, and automakers are adding new shifts and new plants to meet the growing demand.

The auto industry still has a ways to go in recovering from an economic downturn, and it’s not all smooth sailing from here. But these recent improvements in jobs and sales certainly indicate a light at the end of the tunnel.

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The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Ready to Move the World

The 2012 model year is barely upon us, but sights are already set ahead for the brand new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu has been part of the GM line since the 1960’s, and Chevy is pulling out all the stops for its eight generation model, slated to go on sale in Spring 2012. 

New Look

The new Malibu is a complete redesign, based on the European-derived Epsilon II platform shared with the Buick Regal and Lacrosse.  It’s shorter and wider than its predecessor, providing better handling and an additional 4 cubic feet of interior space.  The exterior has a new element of style, with its wraparound headlights complementing the signature bowtie grill, curvier fenders, sporty rear deck lip spoiler, and three-dimensional taillamps inspired by the Camaro. Inside, the upgrades include pleasing trims, sharp Camaro-esque gauges, and classy stitching. Sophistication and style were clearly a priority in this makeover.

Under the Hood

The 2013 Malibu provides a brand new meld of performance and efficiency.  The new 2.5-liter Ecotec four cylinder engine with gas direct injection uses advanced technology to maximize fuel efficiency while delivering V-6-like performance.  Not to mention, the engine also has noise-reduction features which pair nicely with the vehicle’s acoustic laminated glass and triple door seals for a quiet and intimate interior atmosphere that is uniquely Malibu.

Breaking New Ground

The 2013 Malibu will also welcome to the family the brand new Malibu Eco, which will offer up to 38 MPG highway.  It will be among the first GM cars to incorporate eAssist technology, which uses a small lithium-ion battery and electric motor to help boost fuel economy, and is slated to be the most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan in Chevy’s history.

Also on tap for the 2013 Malibu is a global release, which will put the car on sale in over 100 countries compared to the 20 markets of its current model. 

It’s clear that the Malibu is thinking big. And from what we can tell from the hints released about the 2013 model, it’s going to deliver.

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