With disappointing sales, Aslan’s fate remains uncertain

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With disappointing sales, Aslan’s fate remains uncertain

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Aslan [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

When the Aslan began shipping out in October last year, Hyundai Motor expected the large-size premium sedan to steal local consumers who had fallen in love with foreign luxury brands like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Instead, it was Hyundai who got burned.

Despite its goal of selling 22,000 Aslans in the domestic market in 2015, the automaker has managed to sell just 8,601 through November.

Last month, it sold only 598.

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Hyundai was able to sell more than 1,000 Aslans in January and February, but its sales have only worsened. So far, the darkest month was October, when it sold just 375.

In contrast, Hyundai sold a total of 75,982 Grandeur sedans and 32,951 Genesis sedans through November.

The Aslan is currently the worst-selling sedan among Hyundai’s lineup besides the Equus.

One of the biggest reasons it failed to attract local consumers was that the sedan didn’t seem to be very different from existing models. Its design was similar to the Grandeur, and several of its features were already found in the Genesis.

The biggest problem for Hyundai is that the Aslan will be the automaker’s new flagship sedan next week.

Currently, Hyundai’s flagship sedan is the Equus. But the model is being moved to Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury brand, where it will be renamed the EQ900 and become the new brand’s flagship model on Dec. 9.

Hyundai’s flagship sedan title would go to the second-generation Genesis, but the model is also being moved to the new Genesis brand under the name G80.

As a result, the poor-performing Aslan will become Hyundai’s flagship sedan by default.

“As of now, it is true that the Aslan will be Hyundai’s flagship sedan, as the two upper models will be part of the Genesis brand,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. “But since the sales figures are way below expectations, no one knows the fate of the Aslan.”

That fate likely depends on the automaker’s annual reshuffle, expected before the Christmas season.

Since the automaker has traditionally carried out a reshuffle based on performance, sources have said it is highly likely that the executives in charge of developing and marketing the Aslan are waiting for their turn at the chopping block.

But others are saying that Hyundai might not make many adjustments because the company is too busy trying to promote the new Genesis brand.

One of the best ways to predict the fate of the Aslan is to look at what has happened at Kia Motors, whose flagship K9 sedan has disappointed since its release in 2012.

When the K9 was rolled out, even Chairman Chung Mong-koo pushed the new luxury model, but the efforts haven’t paid off.

Through November, only 3,881 K9s were sold this year. As the K9 has continued to fail attracting consumers, Shin Jong-woon, in charge of product quality management, and Ahn Byung-mo, executive chairman and president of Kia Motors America, were forced to leave the company earlier in 2015.

“People in the auto industry consider the Aslan a failure,” an executive of a local automaker said on the condition of anonymity. “The car in which Hyundai invested some billions of won was marketed as ‘the best front-wheel luxury sedan in the country,’ but that didn’t catch. Hyundai wanted to add another competitive car prior to launching the Genesis brand so that the Aslan can naturally take the Equus’ flagship position, but it looks like that strategy has failed.”

The company said it hasn’t yet given up on boosting sales for the Aslan. In August, the company held a marketing event, the Aslan Music Atelier, in its Open Square in Gangnam District, which the company invested 10 billion won ($8.6 million) to build. It is also offering a 1 million won discount on the sedan this month.

“We are trying diverse methods to vitalize sales of the Aslan,” a Hyundai spokesman said.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]





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