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Hyundai Motor: 1 million units in U.S. by 2025

SUVs are selling well and sedan market a good opportunity
Jan 13,2020
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Jose Munoz, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America and global chief operating officer for Hyundai Motor Company, left, and Mark Del Rosso, the CEO of Genesis North American operations, speak on the carmaker’s U.S. business at Hyundai’s U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley of California, United States, on Friday. [YONHAP]
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, California - After two straight years of sales decline in the United States, Hyundai Motor Group achieved a turnaround last year, with 4.6 percent sales growth in the market. The feat was notable considering the fact that car sales in the United States overall declined 1.1 percent.

Difficulties still lay ahead, but Hyundai set an ambitious goal to hit one million units sold annually in the United States by 2025. Last year, it sold a total of 710,007.

“We now have the most competitive SUV portfolio in the market. At the same time, we have maintained a presence in passenger car markets domestic competitors have abandoned - this is an opportunity for us,” said Jose Munoz, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America and global chief operating officer for Hyundai Motor Company, in an interview with Korean reporters on Friday. Munoz joined Hyundai last May after working at Japan’s Nissan since 2004.

A major contributor to the 2019 sales surge was new SUVs, including Kia Motors’ Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade.

Munoz said the SUV strategy shows the company is “on the right track” at a time when consumer demand for SUVs and recreational vehicles (RV) is strong. While automotive sales in United States declined, SUV and pickup trucks sales have been in the rise.

“In the U.S. market, around 70 percent of new vehicle sales are trucks and SUVs. We also think that we are at a stabilization point and expect the market to maintain that mix,” he added.

Hyundai’s strategy to strengthen that segment will continue in 2020 with the release of its first Genesis-brand SUV: the GV80. Tucson, Hyundai’s SUV best seller, will release an all-new model this year for the first time in five years. The company is also preparing to start mass production of its first compact pickup truck, the Santa Cruz, at the company’s Alabama plant from 2021, starting at 40,000 units per year.

In the sedan segment - a field Munoz said should not be overlooked even as competitors shift focus away - Hyundai will release new models for Elantra, the U.S. equivalent to Korea’s Avante, and Kia’s K5. The new Sonata, which went on sale in November, will also receive a promotion boost.

In total, Hyundai’s immediate 2020 sales goal is set at 72,800 units, up 2.5 percent on year.

Among its many brands, the carmaker has high expectations for the high-end Genesis.

“Genesis is the fastest growing luxury brand in the industry,” said Mark Del Rosso, the CEO of Genesis’ North American operations. He started on the job in October.

“I think a lot of the traditional manufacturers in luxury continue to approach the market the same way, and they’re running the same play over and over again and not getting really good results. So the market is perfectly positioned for a young brand like Genesis to come and clearly disrupt.”

The GV80 is coming to market this summer. Del Rosso says this is a big opportunity luxury SUVs are expected to outsell luxury cars by almost 2 to 1 by 2025. “By 2021, our portfolio in the market will double to three sedans, 2 SUVs and an electric vehicle,” he added.

The 2020 automotive market in the United States is one of uncertainties, including projections of slower economic growth, the ongoing trade dispute with China and political volatility ahead of major elections.

“Uncertainties around global trade present challenges, but we are prepared,” said Munoz.

“Hyundai supports free trade and values the trade pact between the United States and Korea. The agreement has been mutually beneficial - it has strengthened the economic relationship between the two countries, and it is particularly important from a geopolitical and strategic perspective.”

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]