August 28, 2014

Hyundai pulls out of Japan

The new Sonata / i40 - won't be for sale in Japan

The new Sonata / i40 - won't be for sale in Japan

Hyundai is to stop selling cars in Japan after failing to make an impact on the market, despite success in the rest of the world.

Hyundai has been a real phenomenon in the last few years. Despite – or maybe even because of – the worldwide slump in car sales they have pushed relentlessly forward and are now the fifth biggest car maker in the world.

Hyundai has increased market share through some very good cars which are increasingly well-built and stylish and, more importantly, priced to be very competitive. In essence they have done what the Japanese did a number of years ago and brought a new option to the marketplace for price conscious buyers. Cars like the new Hyundai iX35 and the Hyundai i40 are setting new standards for the Korean maker and starting to seriously threaten car makers from Japan and Europe.

But there seems to be one black spot on Hyundai’s global sales success – Japan. Which probably has more to do with a national bias against the products of the Korean car maker than anything else. Despite seeing car sales soaring in the rest of the world Hyundai has managed to sell less than 2000 cars a year since it entered the Japanese market in 2001.

Hyundai will instead focus on their commercial vehicle market in Japan, which has been more successful. Ironically it seems that the Koreans – particularly the wealthier Koreans – don’t have the same sort of national bias against Japanese cars. Toyota has been pushing car sales in Korea for about as long as Hyundai has been in Japan, and currently accounts for 10% of all imports with its Lexus brand.

I’m sure Hyundai can live with one black spot on its global sales push.

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