In a world obsessed with quantity, volume, economies of scale, speed, expedience and all that comes with it, wouldn’t it be nice if someone wanted to ease up a little and make sure things work?
A report by Reuters claims that Hyundai is doing just that, with a focus on quality rather than simply cranking out car after car.
“Our operations all over the world are calling for more cars. Executives tell the chairman that capacity should be expanded because they have to sell more cars,” a senior Hyundai executive in Seoul told Reuters.
“But the chairman says, ‘What are you talking about? We have enough capacity. What we need now is stability’,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Part of it stems from Hyundai’s desire to emulate Samsung. Once a premium brand, it is now seen as a legitimate rival to Apple in the top-tier category of consumer electronics. Hyundai is also apparently keen on avoiding some of the same mistakes made by its rivals as well.
“[This mandate is also] motivated by the chairman’s effort to keep Hyundai from making the mistake Toyota made”, another source said, referring to a perception that the Japanese automaker lost control of engineering discipline and manufacturing quality during the 2000s, as it expanded too aggressively and its global capacity climbed well above 8 million vehicles a year.”
Some analysts question whether the attempt at moving upwards will benefit Hyundai’s positioning in Europe at the expense of developing markets like India, where volume and low-cost cars are more important. A new facility in Indonesia, expected to be the next big market (and one that Toyota is betting on heavily) was scrapped due to the decree against over-expansion. But as we know from Volkswagen’s attempt at taking on luxury brands with the Phaeton, moving upwards in the eyes of consumers is very difficult. Better to move downwards when necessary.