Posted by Dale Buss on January 9, 2012 06:12 PM
Hyundai executives emphasized the brand's playfulness today over its well-established utility in product introductions at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And in unveiling a turbocharged version of its new Veloster small car (with the tagline: "Engineered for Whatever") and a substantially upgraded coupe in its Genesis near-luxury line, Hyundai of America CEO John Krafcik also made it clear that the brand now considers itself a mainstream player in the U.S. auto market.
"We've changed from a 'outstanding value brand' to a 'valuable brand,'" in the U.S., Europe and other markets, Krafcik told reporters at the Detroit show today. That rapid evolution is evident, he said, in some strong indicators. Hyundai's fleet sales in the U.S. comprise just 10 percent of its overall vehicle mix, he said, one of the lowest proportions in the industry.
Hyundai was No. 4 in the U.S. in retail sales in 2011 of any automotive brand, following only Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet. And Hyundai's incentive spending last year, at an average of $1,005 a car, was the lowest required by any brand in the market.
Krafcik also noted that Hyundai models including Equus and Elantra — named the 2012 North American Car of the Year at this show this morning by a panel of automotive journalists — sport the highest residual values in their segments these days, meaning they have the most appeal to consumers and dealers buying used cars.
Veloster fits nicely into the ever-broadening range of new products offered by Hyundai, which now makes available everything from relatively inexpensive little cars to luxuriously appointed SUVs. All versions of Veloster boast a unique three-door design, with one door on the driver's side and two on the passengers' side for a dose of utility. The turbo version achieves 46 percent more power than the recently introduced manual-transmission Veloster yet provides a projected 27mpg in the city and 38mpg on the highway.
The 2013 Genesis Coupe displays significant "changes that we made to move it to the head of its segment" including a bolder exterior design, new headlights and new LED taillamps, and a more attractive center console.
One more thing Krafcik mentioned: Hyundai has learned to "communicate with customers in a much more emotional way." Spoken like the head of a brand that truly has a handle on what it represents, which bodes well for Hyundai's future.