Sedans and Missiles: Hyundai Slams Into Another Sales Roadblock

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
sedans and missiles hyundai slams into another sales roadblock

The frustration never seems to end for Hyundai executives. After last year’s Korean labor strife and political scandal, the brand now faces flagging fortunes in the all-important North American market, all thanks to a car-heavy lineup that once guaranteed piles of profit.

Now, the automaker faces the same problem in another global growth engine — China. While that market has also discovered its love for crossovers and SUVs, there’s another problem that Hyundai can’t turn around by rushing a new vehicle to production. Hyundai, it seems, can’t do a damn thing about high-altitude defensive missiles.

Already battered by the Chinese crossover craze — which has seen competitors like General Motors clean up — Hyundai has become a victim of geopolitics.

Anti-Korean sentiment is nothing new to China, but the growing distrust and boycotting of South Korean products — a practice tacitly encouraged by the country’s Communist government — has hit a new high. In response to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, a key Chinese ally, the South is literally on the defensive. Recently, news emerged that South Korea plans to deploy a U.S.-supplied Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery.

With the first pieces of the missile shield now in place, the system should be fully operational by the end of the year. China isn’t pleased.

According to Bloomberg, Hyundai showrooms in the largest Chinese cities are ghost towns. A manager in a Shanghai dealership told the news agency that weekends will go by without a single person entering the showroom, and that half of his sales staff have already quit.

Reuters reports Hyundai and Kia sales fell a staggering 52 percent in March, year-over-year, as the boycott ramped up. Market share has shrunk to just 3.5 percent. As the automaker counts on China for about a quarter of its overseas sales, the THAAD battery keeping its Seoul headquarters safe from nuclear annihilation won’t save it from that incoming blow. Still, the company persists.

Hyundai plans to offer seven new China-only vehicles, including a gas-powered and electric SUV, to lure Chinese buyers into showrooms. Doing its part, Kia also has a China-only SUV the way.

Beijing Hyundai Motor Company executive Chang Won-shin holds out hopes that anti-Korean sentiment will blow over, telling Bloomberg he expects the business climate to “get better soon.” The company is expected to drop its first-quarter financial report later today, with Kia’s results coming tomorrow.

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  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂