By on February 4, 2009

People who did buy cars last month were clearly shopping for value, and Hyundai/Kia rode its rep to sales increases in a month of market contraction. Hyundai was the biggest winner in the US market last month, with overall sales rising 14 percent, to a sales total of 24,512 units. Hyundai’s press release highlights strengths in the firm’s eastern sales district (reportedly up 20 percent over January 2008), and positive reactions to its Assurance program. On the product front, Sonata sales lead the way, up 85 percent in a month when Accord/Camry/Malibu competitors dropped 30 percent or more. And with BMW selling only 23 7-series in January, Hyundai’s Genesis was a recession-level hit with 1,056 sales. Santa Fe was up 35 percent, and at 5,024 units sold it was Hyundai’s second best-selling nameplate. Kia sales were up 3.5 percent, with Rio (+60 percent), Optima (+75 percent) and Rondo (+90 percent) making up for decreases elsewhere.

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30 Comments on “Surprise! Hyundai Sales Up 14 Percent, Kia up 3.5 Percent...”


  • avatar
    cruzmisl

    Just as honda and toyota’s drop in sales relative to the overall industry signify market share gains, this news puts more nails in the american car industry coffin.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Amazing. You can hear the head scratching in Detroit, Japan and Germany going on right now.

    The forcibly merged Hyundai-Kia is the template for a merged GM/Chrysler/Ford and then recovery, otherwise the template is Leyland…..

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’d bet that a lot of those sales are fleet sales. January is traditionally a big month for rental fleet sales. Since Detroit is under pressure to cut its fleet sales, they have to come from somewhere.

    Hyundai had tremendous overcapacity and surely uses its other businesses to subsidize the automotive side of the company. The goal is to build market share; if things work out for them, prices will rise later and all that factory space will get used. Eventually, they’ll have to figure out how to sell more cars at retail if they want to go the distance in the US.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’m curious to know the main driver here. Clearly nobody is buying, but why would those who are all head to Hyundai? Doesn’t make any sense they’d be up 14% while other strong value brands (mainly Honda) are down approx 30%.

    Fleet is one thing (though I was under the impression the drastic drop in fleet sales in Detroit was not that Detroit didn’t want the fleet sales, its that fleets weren’t buying….again, I can’t see those who were all buying Hyundai, at least not enough to get a big bump like this).

    What about January 2008? Was there some type of sales “problem” that could have made that month really bad, so this year its better?

    Mostly I’m REALLY curious to know if it was there Assurance program. I don’t know the details of this thing, but I have to think that if I were on the fence about buying a car, and I was worried, this program could be just the thing to get me to jump on a Hyundai over anyone else. It could bite Hyundai in the arse if everyone loses their jobs and turns their cars in, or it could be a genius move should it prove that it was the fear of losing ones job (vs actually losing it) that was preventing people from buying a car. A program like this, implemented industry-wide and maybe even to other sectors (like housing, etc) could actually work wonders at getting us over the psychological hump in this recession. Essentially insurance for anyone making big purchases. Get enough folks to bite and suddenly the economy is off and running again.

    I think they may be on to something here…. Is this something the federal government should be considering as well? You buy a home, or a car, etc, the federal government will guarantee you can get out of your car or home without losing money but only IF you can adequately prove you have lost your job and your income. Hmmmmmmm…..

  • avatar
    tj12

    In January 2008 Hyundai sales were down 23%.
    Being up 14% in January 2009 still doesn’t put them where they were 2 years ago.

  • avatar
    Cougar Red

    Looks like the Genesis cannibalized the Azera sales here in the US. I wonder how many of those 1056 Genesis sales were V8s? I wonder how long the Azera lasts as an American offering?

    BTW the IIHS was due to test the Genesis on January 29. NHTSA already has. Based on the NHTSA ratings (and using avg. IIHS ratings as a placeholder until those results come in), Informed for Life rated the Genesis with a safety score of 64 (Top 11%).

  • avatar
    Matt51

    The best value, the best warranty. Good styling, dealers more polite in general than Toyota dealers. There should be no surprise, Hyundai has a winning formula. Would be my next car if I were in the market.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.

  • avatar
    dwford

    We sold 4 Genesis at my dealer last month. While everyone I talked to knew of the Assurance program, none of my buyers expressed that it was the main purchase driver.

    Another purchase driver last month was the owner loyalty rebates. Hyundai put out huge additional rebates for current owners to trade up, and many did.

    Hyundai also has great salesman spins on their cars. I don’t have to worry about cutting gross to make a deal when I am getting some of that Hyundai spin money on each car.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I received a postcard (edit: on January 13th) from the dealer where I bought my Elantra last March – it offered “Rebates + Loyalty Cash” back on every model except: Genesis, Elantra and Accent. The minimum discount ($1750) for Tiburon, the maximum ($6000) on Veracruz.

    (Edit: “Positively ends on January 31, 2009″)

  • avatar
    IGB

    As mentioned above, the Koreans are the new fleet suppliers. Add to this the “lose your job, give back your car” incentive.

    Given the current 9% unemployment rate with potential Depression Era levels coming shortly, this could well bite them severely in the tail.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Hyundai has sold azeras to two of my friends. One drove a town car and the other a volvo. It was a combination of factors, first, the 10 year warranty. My one friend bought for $800.00 a 10 year bumbper to bumper warranty on his azera. The other goes to consumer reports as his bible. Both said they liked the car and compared it to the toyota avalon a much more expensive model. I rode in one, and while not a luxury car (cost about $23000) it is large on the inside with generous rear seat leg room (ala avalon). The car falls a little short on performance for my tastes, but it is a solid value. Remember the one friend drove an underpowered town car and the other a four cylinder volvo. They think the car is perky. The car I would consider is the genesis.

  • avatar
    menno

    Hyundai went up almost 15%, Chrysler down 55% (not the 70% I had feared). Here are the totals per Autoblog.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/02/03/by-the-numbers-january-2009-not-so-happy-new-year-edition/

    The total sales per month are the only numbers worth parsing out, since the DSR (daily sales rate) is nonsense; many dealers sell 7 days of the week, not just 5 or 6.

    Kia also went up, and Subaru went up. Every other car company went down in a major way.

    Also interesting is the lack of respect accorded Hyundai Group in the final tallies “by company group” at the end; Hyundai owns 50% of Kia, so they are considered a conglomerate for corporate sales in most sales tallies worldwide (except for autoblog, apparently).

    Interesting that Hyundai are #5 in the world – one spot AHEAD of Honda. Ahead of Nissan. Only Toyota (#1), GM (#2), Ford (#3) and Volkswagen group (#4) are bigger.

    I think January is seeing the few car buyers acting much as car buyers acted in the last depression. If they have the means to buy a new car, they appear to be buying value brands with long warranties (Hyundai or Kia), just as in the depression folks who could afford new cars shied away from “fancy brands” so as to not bring too much attention to themselves; and also are trending towards practical, smaller all-wheel drive vehicles (Subaru) in a move away from big SUVs and CUVs.

  • avatar
    carguy622

    Go Rondo go. I’m sure that even up 90% it’s about 50 cars, but I’m encouraged. I like the Rondo, it’s such a wisely packaged vehicle.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I had a friend buy an Hyundai Entourage last month. His mother-in-law also came to visit for 6 months. Sticking himself, his wife, his 6 year old son, his 1 month old daughter, and his mother-in-law in a coupe to go places didn’t work. Not to mention he is the only one able to drive stick.

    He traded it for an Entourage.

    Entourage Sticker, pimped out ? $27-$28k.

    With his 04 (50k mile) 2 door, stick, Hyundai Accent trade in, he paid $12.5k!

    I thought that was pretty impressive.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Not at all surprised about this.

    Depending on rear seat space of the latter, we’re likely buying a Rondo or Soul at the end of this month. Between the value, statistical quality and viability, they’re hard to beat.

    I’d have loved to buy locally made, but the Matrix is too small, the Caravan too, well, you know and the RAV/4 too expensive.

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    Everything seems to be coming up Millhouse for Hyundai. Good for them. I’m looking forward to checking out the Elantra Touring and the Soul. Speaking of the Touring, when is that going to show up in the USA? It looks like it has already launched in Canada. Initial previews were saying it would launch in mid to late 2008..

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Hyundai is like a stream of bat piss . . .

    a shaft of golden light when all around is dark.

  • avatar

    No surprise here, My theory all the posers pretenders wannabes have come crashing down to earth. You need something then you can only spend what you realistically have and not what you don’t have. McDonalds, Walmart and Hyundai will all do well because people are going to spend realistically when they don’t have money and there is no one stupid enough to lend you money to buy something that you can’t pay back

  • avatar

    The Genesis and Sonata couple with the Assurance program is remarkable

    If you tell people that – if you lose your job, you can be let out of your contract, that sends a very clear message – although morbid – that Hyundai is a company to be taken very very seriously.

    Its hard not to turn down in fact.

  • avatar
    akear

    The Genesis changes everything. Imagine a Buick with Lexus quality, and now GM no longer has a world class V8 the game is almost over.

    When Way-goner cancelled the Ultra V8 he doomed GM luxury to mediocrity.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Kudos to Hyundai like Sunday.

    They are best positioned as the “value” vehicle choice and have diligently set their path for some time now. Many consumers are looking for quality transportation with a low-hassle-factor and value pricing. Hyundai / Kia delivers with the warranty, the buy-back program (hope they have their bases covered on that one), clean conservative styling on many models that will age well, etc…

    Meanwhile, compare to Honda, one of the clear benchmark companies in the auto biz. Honda has the Fit as their best example for value but…..they’re a bit hosed with their other carlines. Examples?…the Civic having lunar module styling with no wagon or hatchback and the Accord sedan is approaching Asian Buick status due to size and styling with a dashboard chock-full-o-buttons. Plus, compare Honda pricing to Hyundai along with all the other attributes the transportation seeking non-emotional customer is looking for right now and it’s a no-brainer.

    Yes. Detroit is screwed and of their own making.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I’m a big fan of what Hyundai has done in the last ten years or so, and I agree Detroit could learn a lot from them.

  • avatar
    Velvetsmack

    I had a chance to look and sit in the new Elantra Touring (Canada)…totally amazed how nice it was put together. I’m predicting this things going to be a sales winner. If you’re looking for a Rondo or something similar, do yourself a favour and check this car out.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I get credit for one of those Kia Sedonas. A co-worker of my wife called asking for advice. She was torn between the Sedona and a Toyota Sienna. The Kia dealer was willing to work with her on the price while the Toyota dealer was being a Toyota dealer. I told her that if her plan was to run it into the ground (it was) and she didn’t care about the name (she didn’t) then buy the Sedona and put the difference in the bank. She picked it up the other day and she’s happy with it.

  • avatar
    NickR

    now GM no longer has a world class V8 the game is almost over.

    Oh I dunno…the LS series by most reasonable measures can hand most other engines their asses.

  • avatar
    poohbah

    It’s been awhile since a co-worker bought a new vehicle. Today, one proudly told me she bought a new Rondo. She said something about a 2-week wait and having to “settle” for red.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Hyundai/Kia buying market share??? HELL YEAH! I like it! I will totally give cash to a company who doesn’t mind undercosting the crap outta the comp.

    Am I the only one who thinks that there is no real reason to own a Korean car? Everything they do is done better by some one else. Unless cost or their smoke and mirrors warranty really gets your junk hard some one explain to me why one would buy Korean?

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    This is a statement of how poor our economy is. “Things are so bad that I bought a Kia/Hyundai.” Once things improve I can do better.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    One of these days Hyundai is going to finally get the respect it deserves. Considering where they started 10 years ago and are today in the US market I think they have done a remarkable job.

    Do they make the best, fastest, most economical cars? maybe not, but they are probably the best value with a long warranty. Call Hyundai the right car at the right time.


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