Hyundai: The Domestic Diva?

As we’ve noted before, Hyundai and Kia have been quick to exploit the weakness of the domestic auto industry by advertising their American-made cars as American-made cars. Now, they’re taking the attack to a whole new level, as Hyundai USA President John Krafcik tells CNN Money that his brand will build 80 percent of its vehicles in the United States by next year. If the Korean brand can actually achieve that goal, it would make Hyundai’s lineup the most American-built full line on the market. And though he insists that Hyundai doesn’t make decisions about production based on PR, Krafcik can’t help but twist the knife, saying

I’m going to build my three best selling cars in the US. Ford builds its best selling car in Mexico.

Oh snap!

Ford’s rebuttal to Krafcik’s slam was measured, if not entirely responsive, with spokesman John Stoll saying

I think we’re encouraged that, overall, American manufacturing is competitive

Ford wouldn’t give an exact number for its US assembly percentage, but conceded that it was less than 80 percent. Chrysler was similarly reticent on the issue, but given its large Canadian manufacturing footprint, CNN Money reckons the Pentastar builds far less than 80 percent of its vehicles in the United States. GM admitted that it manufactures only “60 to 70 percent” of its vehicles here in the USA.

That would appear to put Hyundai on course for becoming the most domestic automaker in America (in terms of final assembly)… as long as it actually meets its goal. But wait, says JD Power analyst Jeff Schuster:

I don’t have it at 80%. I have it closer to 70%

Schuster explains that Hyundai’s forthcoming US-built Santa Fe and Elantra will have to experience sales gains similar to the Sonata’s recent surge in order to hit Krafcik’s projection. Besides, even if GM only built 60 percent of its US sales in the US, it would still have built triple the volume that Hyundai expects to build here next year. Still, with Hyundai’s products enjoying critical and commercial success right now, a market-topping percentage of US-built cars is just icing on an already-tasty cake. And as Krafcik reminds us, the old-fashioned benefits of “build ’em where you sell ’em,” namely production flexibility and currency stability, haven’t gone away either.

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  • Blobinski Blobinski on Oct 22, 2010

    I think the point is this - take a look at a company that made a complete POS in 1990 to now. It was made overseas in Korea and was a pile. Look at them now. You can make all the excuses in the world concerning why GM and Ford are not doing as well or as successful lately, the denegrating comments about only doing assembly here, etc. They came to the USA and have kicked tail over the domestic companies. Why doesn't criticizing Hyundai, a major USA manufacturer and employer, get the same negative response as when someone bashes the domestic car companies? I like their cars and will continue to support them. The Sonata Turbo should be a great car.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 22, 2010
    "...his brand will build 80 percent of its vehicles in the United States by next year" No matter; he still can't use the UAW parking lot because a Hyundai is 'foreign', and a Mexican-built Ford is not.

    • Mikey Mikey on Oct 22, 2010

      @gslippy...My guess....the dude will stay as far from the UAW parking lot as he can get.

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  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
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