Daily Archives: April 15, 2009

The Heart and Seoul of Hyundai

What does it tell you that Hyundai/Kia is the only major carmaker to post a profit this year? Sure, it was small (less then six percent in January), but the Korean company is actually in the black at a time when American manufacturers are struggling for survival, and major Japanese and German brands are deep in the red. Even Nissan may disappear if they don’t watch themselves more carefully.

Hyundai seems to be the only player to be positioning themselves positively in the midst of an otherwise global economic nightmare. How are they doing it? Well, the answer is not really that complicated. They are working overtime to build a reputation of quality and affordability. Quality that is up to par with stalwarts like Honda and Toyota. And affordability like, well… like what Hyundai is already known for. Quality. Affordability. A proverbial one-two punch.

Add to the equation the industry’s best warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles. And, to boot, a genius marketing strategy that offers a buy-back to prospective consumers, so they don’t have to be worried about getting laid off and then not being able to make their new car payments. It basically gives people the confidence to make a major purchase.

Now, back to the cars themselves. Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights in the Hyundai/Kia line-up:

First, there’s the Hyundai Genesis. This is a luxury caliber sports sedan on par with BMW and Audi, but sells for $12,000 to $20,000 less.

Then there’s the Hyundai Veracruz, a very well put together crossover SUV that is almost identical to the Lexus RX300. Except, again, several thousand dollars less.

Kia’s new Soul is every bit as stylish and refined as the Scion xB, but starts at a thrifty $14,000.

And the compact Kia Rondo has smarter packaging than anything in the Toyota or Honda line, and grants more interior cargo room then virtually every other vehicle in its class. And the class above it.

Not only is Hyundai improving its overall public perception as a quality carmaker, it is actually positioning itself to have an upscale luxury presence in the market. If someone would have told you this 10 years ago, you would have laughed them out of the room. I know I would have.