Hyundai needs ute, small SUV to boost sales

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HYUNDAI SAYS despite strong sales figures last month, it needs new models to truly take the fight to Japanese juggernauts Toyota and Mazda.

The Korean manufacturer is bucking predictions this year, and has just recorded one of the most impressive months in its history in Australia.

According to VFACTS, Hyundai was the top-selling brand for passenger cars (excluding ever popular SUVs and high-volume light commercial vehicles) in the month of April. This is the first time Hyundai has been the top sales dog for passenger cars since it first started selling on Australian shores.

This is largely due to impressive sales of the i30, which stomped its rival, the Toyota Corolla, by 33 percent last month to move 4143 units.

“It is obviously a fantastic result for us, and it is actually the second month running that we have topped the sales charts in Australia,” Hyundai spokesperson Bill Thomas told Wheels.

Hyundai -i 30-driving -frontThomas highlighted the fact Hyundai’s Elantra, despite being the sedan version of the i30, is not counted towards the sales of the leading model.

“One of the more interesting facts about it is that that is only counting the hatch version [in the i30] – whereas the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 within their ranges are including the sedan versions of those,” he explained.

“Given that, it is an even more outstanding result.”

Hyundai sold 234 Elantras last month.

The boost in sales pushes the Korean manufacturer into second overall in market share, behind Toyota – which benefited from a 14.1 percent rise in light commercial vehicle sales this month to control 18.9 percent of the market overall. Hyundai took a 9.9 percent share of the market to demote Mazda to third by just 0.2 percent.

Hyundai -ute -side -frontThe strong performance also places Hyundai third overall in terms of total sales so far this year.

Thomas says not being able to fight Toyota and Mazda in all segments hurts them overall.

“We have got some strong product, but at the moment we are not playing in every market segment, which kind of limits our potential – certainly at this current point,” Thomas added.

Currently, the Korean manufacturer does not have any competition for the Toyota Hilux or Mazda CX-3, which sold 3384 and 1604 models a piece.

Hyundai believes selling rivals to these two models would both suit the brand, and boost sales.

Hyundai -ute -side“What we really need if we are to challenge Mazda and Toyota is a pick-up and also a small SUV,” Thomas said.

“I think if we had a Hilux rival for example, that would add considerable incremental volume - also a CX-3 rival.

“Both of those vehicles would be suitable for our brand. I think if you look at the success of iLoad for example, our van, it proves that we can build a successful, strong, commercial vehicle.

“You can imagine that the ute would be along those lines. I think Australians would like a Hyundai Ute.

“The same goes for a small SUV. That is something Mazda is doing very well with the CX-3, and we could certainly play in that sphere.

“We are a little limited at the moment across our product ranges, but I think eventually we will get there and we will get those cars launched.”

Hyundai -ute -side -rearDespite all this, Thomas says Hyundai is running its own race, instead of focussing on beating its rivals in sales figures.

Thomas refrained from revealing specific numbers, but said Hyundai is pleased with its sales so far, and is on track to reach its own goals for the year.

“We just have our targets and our ambitions and we have to hit targets and we set ourselves goals and that is what we are all about,” he explained.

“We don’t really pay much attention to what other manufactures are selling and where we are on the so-called leader board.

“But we are very aggressive at the moment, and it seems to be working.

“We have a number, and we are expected to hit it. I guess you could say it is a very similar number to the sales number that we had last year.”

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