Hyundai Motor chief tries to rally the troops

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Hyundai Motor chief tries to rally the troops

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo emphasized innovation as key to overcoming the group’s sluggish sales and broader economic troubles during a closed-door conference Monday morning with 60 top executives charged with the group’s overseas operations.

“A difficult external environment is no longer a variable factor but a constant one,” Chung said at the conference held at the group’s headquarters in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul. “Continuous innovation is the only way to survive in an uncertain era like today. … We need to be a leader in changing the market landscape.”

The group’s sales for the first half of the year were unimpressive, with only 3.2 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold to record a 4.2 percent drop year on year. The initial sales goal for 2016 was over eight million units, but bleak predictions for the latter half of the year make that seem unlikely.

According to the Korea Automotive Research Institute, the growth rate of the global car market will stop at a disappointing 2.4 percent this year, impacted in large part by depressed consumer sentiment from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

In the meantime, up-and-coming markets including China and India are expected to offer a boost to global car sales. The institute said sales in China will increase by 9.3 percent year on year in the second half, while sales in India will increase 8.4 percent.

Chung’s high hopes for Genesis, the new luxury car brand under Hyundai Motor, was also apparent during the meeting.

“We will need to launch the G80 and G90 in the U.S. market and form a strong foothold there as a luxury carmaker,” Chung said.

The G90 and G80, the first and second models in the brand’s six-part lineup scheduled to be released by 2020, will enter the U.S. market by the end of this year, and the Chinese market is expected soon.

The G90 was released domestically last year, while the G80 was released last week.

Both have been successful in the Korean market, which has many customers loyal to Hyundai Motor, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be successful in a foreign luxury car market dominated by European companies.

“We will also need to expand the lineup of environmentally-friendly vehicles as well as amp up our manufacturing and sales capacity,” Chung said.

The group has said it will soon launch the eco-friendly Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro models in markets like the United States and Europe.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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