Tale of Two Countries: U.S. Finds Itself With Oversupply of Hyundai Model

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

South Korea moved swiftly to counter a coronavirus outbreak back in February, soon becoming a best-case example for other countries to follow. While domestic auto production was mildly hampered by the outbreak, and further impacted by supply chain issues originating in hard-hit China, output has barely flagged.

In the case of one popular compact crossover, perhaps Hyundai should have turned off the taps for a bit.

As reported by Reuters, too many units of the normally popular Tucson are piling up at U.S. ports, wallflowers in a nearly shuttered industry that’s only just now trying to get back on its feet.

Roaring out of the virus scare and anticipating normal overseas demand, Hyundai output in South Korea reached 98 percent of capacity in March, with the U.S. — a huge market for the automaker — receiving a greater than normal amount of vehicles last month. Shipments to the U.S. rose 4.3 percent, year over year, in March… just in time for lockdown measures in most U.S. states and the shuttering of dealer operations almost from coast to coast.

Suffice it to say there wasn’t a flood of buyers entering Hyundai showrooms in March, which explains why the healthy shipments of overseas-built models are clogging port facilities. As the brand’s best-selling model, the Tucson is over-represented in this slow-to-drain backlog, sources claim.

Hyundai has since idled its domestic Tucson line as it braces for an unhealthy first-quarter earnings report. April output in South Korea is expected to decline significantly as the company matches production with demand. However, last week’s assembly shutdown will do nothing for the glut of existing models U.S. dealerships don’t need.

“I hope that the situation will recover by the middle of next month. If not, we might have to lay off some people,” Brad Cannon, general manager of a California Hyundai dealership, told Reuters. The dealership’s sales are off 50 percent from pre-pandemic levels, he added.

Hyundai’s U.S. manufacturing sites are expected to get back to work in early May, though consumer demand moving forward is anyone’s guess. Most, if not all, automakers are readying for a bad sales year. On a brighter note, sometime later this year those same buyers will be able to take a peek at the next-generation Tucson, which arrives for 2021 with a new platform and less anonymous styling.

[Image: Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Volvoguyincanada Volvoguyincanada on Apr 23, 2020

    The Tucson is a rickety P.O.S. (Yes I have driven one). I don’t care about the “value”. The whole car shakes like an unbalanced washing machine every time I go over a bump in the road. Hyundai is the Samsung of the auto world.

    • See 1 previous
    • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 24, 2020

      So what does that make the RAV-4? MT comparison test. Tucson - Its ride and handling behavior is similarly inoffensive. "The Tucson took a set in turns quite predictably and generally exhibited little or no bad behavior," technical director Frank Markus said. RAV-4 - The RAV4's ride quality is BOTTOM of the pack, too, with lots of head toss, gut jiggle, and a fair amount of roll through corners. We expected better. And the RAV-4 is on Toyota's latest platform, TNGA, whereas the Tucson won't be getting Hyundai's new platform until the next generation. MT also roasted the RAV-4 for its buzzy engine and rough shifting transmission. The RAV-4 didn't fare much better in C/D's comparison.

  • Thelaine Thelaine on Apr 23, 2020

    I thought Samsung was good. I have their TVs and a 'fridge. Tell me more about Samsung.

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 23, 2020

      They are fine. Solid hardware if you can live with there "love it or hate it" interface tweaks. I am a Pixel user so it stands to reason I hate their interface. But stock Android on their hardware would make for an excellent experience in my mind, as would be the case for LG devices.

  • ToolGuy Honda is dreaming. And resting on its 'laurels' (French for 'posterior').
  • SCE to AUX Here's some advice - slow down. That's a great way to arrive home safely, without a ticket, with lower blood pressure, and more economically.
  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.