The Tucson Is Hyundai's Current U.S. Success Story, but Inventory Problems Are Restricting That Success

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
the tucson is hyundais current u s success story but inventory problems are

Hyundai’s U.S. sales volume is down 13 percent through the first seven months of 2017, a year-over-year drop valued at 60,203 lost sales. Hyundai has fallen so quickly that its corporate partner, Kia, has managed to outsell Hyundai in America in each of the last three months.

But even with Hyundai sales falling nearly five times faster than the industry at large, and even with the two most popular products in the lineup — Elantra and Sonata — causing a 23-percent downturn in Hyundai passenger car sales, there’s good news to be heard out of Hyundai’s (shrinking) corner of the market.

The third-generation Tucson launched two years ago is a verifiable hit. Sales are perpetually rising. July 2017, in fact, was its best month ever.

But there’s bad news. Hyundai can’t get nearly enough Tucsons shipped across the Pacific from the compact crossover’s Ulsan, South Korea, assembly plant.

“We have the capacity to sell many more of those,” Hyundai Motor America’s vice president for planning tells Wards Auto. “Our biggest problem is not nearly enough of them. We’ve been suffering that since the very beginning.”

Hyundai’s U.S. dealers are obviously getting their hands on more Tucsons now than they were. Indeed, O’Brien says U.S. allocation has been increasing. But a vehicle such as the Tucson that’s routinely attracting more than 10,000 U.S. buyers per month would ideally have inventory of 25,000-30,000 copies in stock to maximize consumer selection and meet future demand. According to, even with Tucson supply improving, there are fewer than 22,000 Tucsons in stock in the U.S.

Even in-demand vehicles suffer when selection is poor.

The Tucson nevertheless accounts for 16 percent of Hyundai’s year-to-date sales, up from 11 percent in the same period one year ago. Already, in only seven months, Hyundai has sold 62,964 copies of the Tucson, more than in any entire calendar year prior to this model’s launch. Hyundai is on track to sell 112,000 Tucsons in 2017 if the 25-percent rate of growth holds for the rest of the year. That’s more than double the number of Tucsons sold in America only three years ago.

Yet it could be better.

Hyundai remains cautious about the SUVs-Are-The-Answer theories of amateur automotive product planners. Hyundai is beginning to see similar levels of incentivization required to sell utility vehicles and cars, for example, while the general decline of the industry is going to increase competitiveness, an arena in which more utility vehicles will fall by the wayside.

The Tucson, however, appears to be in no danger. Hyundai’s smallest utility vehicle, at least until the Kona arrives next year with limited volume potential, is America’s 22nd-best-selling utility vehicle so far this year, ahead of the Jeep Renegade and Kia Sorento but behind the Honda Pilot and Dodge Journey.

[Image: Hyundai Motor America]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Aug 14, 2017

    I hope they make an N version of this with the 2.0T and DCT.

  • Saturnotaku Saturnotaku on Aug 14, 2017

    I own a 2017 Tucson with the 1.6T/DCT combo. It's a fine little CUV with lots of passenger room and is surprisingly fun to least when you can get the transmission to cooperate. Aside from supply problems, the DCT is this vehicle's Achilles heel. Lots of complaints on owner's boards about delayed or even no acceleration. From my experience, the claims are not without merit. While I've never experienced a "no-go" situation, I have seen plenty of stuttering in stop-and-go traffic, as well as inconsistent throttle response. A lawsuit alleging design defects in the transmission control module was filed on behalf of owners of the Tucson and other Hyundai vehicles with the DCT (Elantra, Sonata, Veloster).

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged