Hyundai Motor driven to higher goals

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Hyundai Motor driven to higher goals

Hyundai Motor is opting for more aggressive targets than it set for itself earlier this year, raising domestic and global sales goals for 2015.

The main reason for the unusual decision by Korea’s largest automaker stems from an urgency caused by disappointing sales both at home and overseas.

Hyundai Motor’s share of the local market in the first three months of the year was 37.7 percent, below earlier estimates of 40 percent. In the global market, the automaker’s sales show signs of dwindling in the face of aggressive marketing by European and Japanese brands whose weakened currencies have given them price advantages.

The Korean automaker raised its domestic sales target to 720,000 units from 690,000 and its global target to 5.1 million units from 5.05 million.

Hyundai hopes to maintain the 41 percent goal it set earlier this year for domestic market share. For the U.S. market, the goal is 5 percent.

In the annual sales plan for Hyundai, and its smaller affiliate Kia, the strategy is to aggressively promote the Sorento and Santa Fe SUVs, Carnival minivan and Maxcruz large SUV. Additionally, it plans to sell an average of 8,000 LF Sonata sedans every month.

It will ramp up marketing to potential buyers in their 20s and 30s. According to its own research, only 22 percent of people in their 30s prefer Hyundai Motor vehicles, compared to 58 percent for Mercedes-Benz, 52 percent for BMW and 40 percent combined for Volkswagen and Audi. Survey participants could list more than one preference.

For years, many young consumers have complained the automaker ignored and mistreated buyers in Korea, selling better-equipped cars abroad and charging more for the same options, thereby milking local consumers’ loyalty to Korean-made products.

But market experts say the difference in components is not because Hyundai has been playing local consumers for loyal fools, but because of different environmental and regulatory differences.

In hopes of stronger marketing, the automaker in October created a department to focus on Hyundai haters. Last month, it invited 40 members of an Internet community to try the new i40. This was the brainchild of the special department.

Up to last year in foreign markets, the Korean automaker was receiving full payment in the U.S. market. But with European marques using the depreciating euro to offer stronger incentives, Hyundai has decided to take a similar step, increasing last year’s incentive of $1,640 to $2,500 for 2015.

The automaker’s global market share has spiraled downward since peaking at 5.1 percent in 2011. In 2012, it fell to 4.9 percent and then to 4.6 percent in 2013. Last year, the automaker’s worldwide market share was 4.4 percent.

Hyundai Motor is offering $500 cash back on the Sonata with a 72-month installment plan at 1.9 percent interest.

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