By on May 20, 2015

2016 Elantra

Hyundai USA reported record April sales last month, yet by only posting modest growth figures, Hyundai didn’t match the pace of the overall auto industry. As a result, Hyundai’s market share actually decreased in this record-setting month from 4.8% in April 2014 to 4.7% in April 2015.

Year-over-year, Hyundai volume increased 3% to 68,009 units in April 2015, a gain of 1,902 sales in a market which grew 5%, or 64,000 units. Compared with the prior month of March, during which Hyundai set an all-time sales record regardless of season, Hyundai’s market share slipped from 4.9%.

But in a market that’s increasingly favouring SUVs and crossovers and increasingly uninterested in passenger cars, Hyundai’s growth is notable because of the automaker’s reliance on passenger cars.

SUVs and crossovers accounted for 34% of all U.S. new vehicle sales in April 2015. At Hyundai, where the company’s smaller Tucson has aged and is about to be replaced, that figure stood at just 21%.

April sales of passenger cars across the industry slid 1%. At Hyundai, car sales increased by more than 1% thanks to especially strong performances by small cars. Accent sales jumped 28% to 8,208, well ahead of the fourth-best-selling subcompact, Honda’s Fit.

Although Hyundai says Elantra incentive spending decreased compared with March – when Elantra volume boomed to a second-in-class 28,794 units – the aging Hyundai compact still managed an 8% year-over-year improvement.

The Genesis (up 40%) and Azera (up 31%) both posted improvements. The new Sonata was the trouble spot for Hyundai’s car division. U.S. midsize car volume fell 7% in April 2015; Sonata sales tumbled 13%. Year-to-date, Sonata volume is up 3%.


Hyundai USA sales pie chart April 2015 YTD

In response to my questions on the subject of slowing growth, Hyundai Motor America’s VP of national sales, Bob Pradzinski, said, “Our production is contained at about 20% CUV. Our success as a company has to rely on car sales, specifically Elantra and Sonata, our volume models.”

The new Tucson launch will likely provide a big boost to Hyundai’s SUV/CUV total, but not to the extent that Hyundai won’t continue to be a hugely car-oriented automaker in a hugely light truck-oriented market.

Hyundai only sold 14,074 utility vehicles in April 2015, a 9% increase in a category which improved by 15%. But can Hyundai satisfy their dealers with a small crossover lineup: Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe, Tucson? Nissan sells Jukes, Muranos, Pathfinders, Rogues, and Armadas. Toyota sold 45,311 4Runners, Highlanders, Land Cruisers, RAV4s, and Sequoias in April. Honda only sells two CUV nameplates – CR-V and Pilot – but they sold more than 40,000 CR-Vs and Pilots in April 2015.

Or is Hyundai simply primed for a new era? If, or when, the market reverts to car love, Hyundai is established as an automaker that competes largely on the strength of cars. That’s likely to remain true even if the brand expands their utility vehicle lineup.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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17 Comments on “Hyundai’s Record April Sales Bring Market Share Decline, Heavy Reliance On Cars...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If Hyundai sold 14k SUVs, that amounts to 20% of their YTD volume, while Toyota is at 26% for SUVs. That’s not a huge disparity in reliance on SUVs, and I’m sure the revised Tucson will help.

    Also, Sonata YTD volume is up in a segment that is down, yet that’s a trouble spot for Hyundai? I guess I don’t see it the same way.

    And YTD Elantra volume is up 7%. These two cars are Hyundai’s stated pillars, so the growth trend seems good for the company. I don’t think they have anything to worry about.

    • 0 avatar

      YTD, Toyota has sold 354,782 cars (including Scion) and 321,111 trucks (SUVs, CUVs, pick-ups, minivans).

      So 47.5% of Toyota’s sales are for trucks.

      Include Lexus and the disparity decreases (Lexus is close to a 50/50 split).

      In comparison, Hyundai has sold 51,634 trucks/CUVs YTD which is 21.5% of sales.

      Next to VW, Hyundai is the most reliant on car sales for volume (Kia, due to capacity issues, doesn’t sell as many cars as Hyundai, but they also are too reliant on cars for sales, but the new Sedona has helped in that dept.).

      Hyundai and Kia needed a new NA plant a couple of years ago, primarily to build more CUVs (they also need to add more CUVs and other “trucks”).

  • avatar

    “But in a market that’s increasingly favouring SUVs and crossovers and increasingly uninterested in passenger cars, Hyundai’s growth is notable because of the automaker’s reliance on passenger cars.”

    I really think the problem is that:

    #1. Cars aren’t big enough
    #2. Bigger cars are too expensive (for Main street)
    #3. Affordable Mid-sized sedans lack AWD which is increasingly becoming a demanded luxury feature.

    Fortunately there’s the AWD Dodge Charger with V6 and 8-speed.

    • 0 avatar

      These are concise points, but on point three I would add the Chrysler 200 does offer this feature (although it is too small).

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree.

      The 2015 Genesis is big enough
      At $45k, it’s at a better price point than Lexux or Infiniti
      AWD is available, but RWD with four real winter tires is the better choice.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know. I can’t find any figures, but it seems like the take rate for AWD mid-sized sedans is fairly low. The Legacy, of course, has it standard, but it appears to have a low take rate on the Fusion and 200.

      • 0 avatar

        By time you “Load Up” a midsize sedan enough to have AWD on it, an SUV/CUV is a stone’s throw away in price and similar in options with a ton more space.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d argue against every one of your points.

      1. Mid-sized sedans are larger and roomier than ever. Large sedans are, well, larger.
      2. Bigger cars can be had for a very reasonable price if you shop around. Price out the street price (not list price) for a Taurus or Avalon for example.
      3. As others have stated, the Fusion and 200 qualify. Don’t forget the all things Subaru.

      The vehicles are there for those that want to buy them.

      • 0 avatar


        Sedans are bigger than ever (many “midsize” sedans have the room of a full-size).

        Acura added a FWD-only trim to the MDX b/c customers in the sunbelt who did not want the added weight of an AWD system asked for it.

  • avatar

    Well iI am not surprised their numbers are going down. They cost just as much as their Japanese competition. Yes warranty is good but can’t just rely on that anymore when you want to fight with the Japanese.

    • 0 avatar

      They caught up to the competition (Japanese, American, European) in quality AND price. Kudos to them for the gains they’ve made in the last dozen years, but that doesn’t make them a better buy than anyone else. They’ve simply had the advantage of being the automotive media darling.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai’s nos. are up for the year (240k vs. 226k).

      The problem is that the increase hasn’t been as high as for the competition which offers a much bigger lineup of trucks (pick-ups, SUVs, CUVs, minivans), in addition to capacity issues.

      Kia has to build the Santa Fe Sport for Hyundai at its GA plant, alongside the Sorento and Optima.

      The Japanese Big 3 have many more plants and even have plants dedicated to one model.

  • avatar

    I’ve been involved with selling Hyundais for 6+ years. They have always had a problem getting enough SUVs to the dealers. Hopefully with a new Kia plant in Mexico and possible a Hyundai plant there, Hyundai will be able to produce more utility vehicles. Right now the Santa Fe Sport is produced at the Kia pant alongside the Sorento and Optima.

    There is a big difference in how Hyundai’s sales are being generated today vs 4 years ago. When the current Elantra and previous Sonata (2011) were new, they sold with almost no incentives. Today the 2015 Elantra and Sonata have huge incentives. Shows the age of the Elantra and the lack of excitement for the new Sonata.

    • 0 avatar

      Excitement or not, after the initial month or 2 after the launch of a new model, an automaker will have to match the competition on spiffs (these days, price is what sells – which is why we have seen huge variances in monthly sales figures for models like the Altima – big sales months corresponding to more $$ on the hood).

      Reason why sales of the Elantra, Pilot, RX, etc. have gone back up despite being at the end of their life-cycles.

  • avatar

    Perhaps America has realized that it doesn’t take the 100,000 mile warranty as a strong selling point. Consumers are doing just fine without it. I also don’t see Hyundai/Kia doing things “better” in terms of engineering and quality that sets them apart .

  • avatar

    This is surprising — at least on the West Coast, Hyundai’s pneumatic-look Santa Fe was to the early/mid 2000s what Ford’s brick-look Exploder was to the mid/late 1990s: the default family wagon. It made the marketplace take Hyundai and CUVs alike seriously. What happened?

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