In a release yesterday detailing the company’s 2018 lineup, Hyundai confirmed that U.S. market availability of the Hyundai Azera will be discontinued.
But have no fear, dear lover of affordable large sedans. The 2017 Hyundai Azera is not yet thin on the ground.
Roughly 1,000 Azeras are currently sitting on dealer lots across the United States, enough — at the Azera’s recent sales pace — to last until mid-fall.
The Azera doesn’t deserve to meet such a tragic end, but its demise is one we knew about long before Hyundai’s official announcement on July 5, 2017. U.S. sales plunged 82 percent over the last decade.
Even for a dyed-in-the-wool fanatic of a particular car, said fanatic is likely reasonable enough to see one or two flaws somewhere in their beloved ride of choice.
Conversely, the biggest consumer of Haterade for the very same car is often able to see a couple of good qualities or features in the vehicle they despise. Other times, the [s]losers and haters[/s] passionate individuals on either side of the automotive aisle (road?) can come together and agree certain vehicles are just not that great, overall.
Today we ask: Which current vehicle has the fewest redeeming qualities?
Since 2009, Hyundai’s North American volume has seen record sales every single year. While the last few annual assessments haven’t resulted in the same volume boom as the immediate post-recession years, the company hasn’t seen any shrinkage — despite below-average incentive spending and a lineup that doesn’t exactly sync with the region’s evolving automotive tastes. Hyundai dealers are probably singing the brand’s praises and getting its logo tattooed on their staff then, right?
Not quite. While Hyundai has achieved nearly a decade of growth in the Wild West, dealers are growing increasingly disappointed with its tactics and are less than enthused about future business prospects — especially as it doesn’t appear Hyundai has any interest in scaling back car volume for the sake of SUV sales.
In fact, while both the Hyundai Elantra and Sonata remain higher-volume models, both have undergone a noticeable delivery decrease since 2012. Meanwhile, sales of utility vehicles like the Santa Fe and Tucson have nearly doubled in the same timeframe. Hyundai put 62,817 Tucson SUVs onto North American roads in 2012, and that figure rose to 113,502 last year. It could have been more, had the company been better at supplying those vehicles.
If there’s one thing shared by members of ISIS and the Western world, it’s an appreciation for the utility and versatility of high-value crossovers. Yes, even militant, fundamentalist killers have a myriad of needs requiring the likes of a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sorento.
As Iraqi forces continue their push into territory previously seized by members of the Islamic State, visual evidence has emerged of the desperate tactics employed by the retreating fighters. Perhaps the most surprising are a plethora of Korean crossovers outfitted for battle.
Imagine for a second you’re living in Canada in the mid-‘80s. The Edmonton Oilers have brought the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1979, and it’ll stay in the Great White North until the next decade. A broad-chinned lawyer was just given a landslide victory to lead the country and the Tunagate scandal meant one could no longer enjoy tasty canned fish for supper.
That Detroit barge in the driveway is looking a bit haggard now, especially with the copious amounts of salt being dumped on the road every winter. Sure, we’re in the go-go ‘80s, but who wants to blow all that dough they’re charging for Hondas and Toyotas? A couple of new dealerships have set up shop in town, filled with cheap Eastern Bloc and Korean cars. But which one will you choose?
Nearly seven years after the Nissan Juke. Five years after the Buick Encore. Three years after the Jeep Renegade. Two and a half years after the Honda HR-V. Finally, the 2018 Hyundai Kona is set to arrive as the fourth and smallest member of Hyundai’s utility vehicle lineup.
With the silhouette of a Mazda CX-3, the quirky light treatment of a Nissan Juke, and the cladding of a Pontiac Vibe, the Hyundai Kona will arrive in North America in early 2018 with optional all-wheel drive and a new platform that will be shared with the unfortunately named Kia Stonic.
The platform, Hyundai says, “is optimized to permit SUV levels of ground clearance.” Don’t expect more than 6.7 inches, yet in the Kona’s segment, the little Hyundai won’t actually be that low. But it is small. At 164 inches from bumper to bumper, the Hyundai Kona stretches only two inches longer than a Hyundai Accent hatchback and is four inches shorter than the Mazda CX-3.
Yet by 2020, Hyundai intends to strengthen its crossover lineup by positioning below the B-segment Kona an even smaller A-segment utility vehicle. Like a sidecar for your Santa Fe.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona, which American subcompact crossover aficionados will be able to drool over in person in early 2018, will see its first spotlights during a Korean launch event tomorrow. However, much like private celebrity photographs, the Kona has bared all on the internet a day before the big reveal.
Hyundai hasn’t provided much in the way of specifications, though it has teased us with ever-revealing photos of its new global model for some time. For the automaker, a B-segment crossover isn’t timely — it’s overdue. Utility vehicles are the company’s top focus as the market moves away from the vehicles that sent Hyundai sales surging in the post-recession era.
So, what do you think?
It’s time for performance SUVs to leave the luxury domain and make their way down into the mainstream.
And who better to bring a performance utility vehicle to the masses than the man who previously headed up BMW’s M division, Albert Biermann.
Biermann, after three decades at BMW and more than half a decade in charge at BMW M, joined the Hyundai Motor Group as head of vehicle test and high performance development in 2014. His list of responsibilities at Hyundai and Kia is lengthy. His aspirations for Hyundai’s N brand, according to Drive, are lofty.
But while conventional thought would lead you to believe Hyundai’s N performance sub-brand would focus on cars, Biermann says, “The fun-to-drive element is not limited to the size and segment of the car; you can create fun cars in every segment.”
As a result — and this won’t surprise anyone who remembers that Biermann’s previous position included oversight of M versions of the BMW X5 and BMW X6 — there’s likely a Hyundai Tucson N in the future.
Earlier this week, former Hyundai executive Derrick Hatami appeared to be a corporate sacrificial lamb — slaughtered by the Korean automaker to appease the angry sales gods. His abrupt departure from the company seemed to be an under-the-rug firing. However, his former employer quickly reached to us to explain Hatami had left on his own accord, wishing him well. While that’s often the boilerplate explanation when an executive is forcibly ousted from a large company, Hyundai wasn’t lying.
Hatami appeared, as if by magic, on Volkswagen of America roster less than 48 hours after news of his exodus broke. The current assumption is that his apparent firing from Hyundai was, in fact, a poaching maneuver undertaken by VW. Otherwise, this man has the most incredible interviewing skills on planet Earth.
Genesis Motors is soon to complete its first year on the U.S. market.
Through the first ten months of its run as Hyundai’s luxury spin-off, 15,254 copies of the Genesis G80 and Genesis G90 have been sold. That’s 15,254 buyers who all moved over from other auto brands. There was no other way — no repeat business, no C-Class to E-Class to S-Class-style chain reaction.
More of those buyers moved over from the Hyundai brand than anywhere else. That makes sense. The Genesis G80 is essentially a second-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan. The Genesis G90 is a second-generation replacement for the Hyundai Equus. Hyundai buyers are trading in and trading up.
But when it comes to earning conquests from luxury rivals, Genesis Motors does so most often at the expense of Genesis’ forerunner, the last brand to do what Genesis wants to do.
This is not what you’d call a long history of sales difficulties for Hyundai, the seventh-best-selling auto brand in America. The 2016 calendar year was Hyundai Motor America’s best ever, the culmination of eight consecutive years of growth.
Yet while Hyundai rapidly — and not unpredictably — grew its U.S. sales coming out of the recession, nearly doubling its sales between 2008 and 2016, the rate of growth was notably slower in 2016 than in prior years. Blame capacity constraints, blame a car-centric lineup in an SUV-leaning world, blame conservative redesigns, blame whatever you want.
Regardless, Hyundai is feeling the pinch now. Year-over-year, sales have declined in each of the last six months. Hyundai’s U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, was ousted just before Christmas 2016. In May 2017, for the first time ever, Kia outsold Hyundai in the United States. And on June 6, 2017, Hyundai Motor America’s vice president for sales, Derrick Hatami, exited the building as well.
All is not well. So then, more SUVs?
Updated at 10:00pm on June 6 with response from Hyundai.
Derrick Hatami, Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of sales for less than two years, has been removed from Hyundai’s leadership team as of today, June 6, 2017.
After record annual volume in the 2016 calendar year, Hyundai’s U.S. sales have been falling fast throughout 2017. Year-over-year, Hyundai volume declined in each of the last six months, including an 18-percent decline in May 2017.
That decline enabled partner brand Kia to outsell Hyundai for the first time in the brands’ U.S. history, evidently a source of embarrassment for Hyundai. Having already forced out the company’s U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, just before Christmas last year after Hyundai’s rapid growth stalled, Derrick Hatami’s departure leaves a hole that will be filled in the interim by Hyundai’s southern regional general manager, Sam Brnovich, according to Automotive News.
Last week, Hyundai wasn’t short on excuses for the company’s poor May performance. This week, the excuses were apparently not good enough.
With the Civic Type R expected to appear on lots any day now, and no end in sight to the continued popularity of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, consumers can be forgiven for not thinking about the Hyundai Veloster.
The long-in-the-tooth model remains a valuable oddball for the automaker, but it isn’t without its flaws — namely, a super-harsh ride. Still, it’s a quirky model that adds flair in an increasingly conformist marketplace. Hyundai even saw fit to endow the Veloster with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder in a bid to perk up its little hatch.
Despite falling sales, Hyundai isn’t giving up on the model, and a new report claims the Korean automaker could give the next-generation Veloster a heaping dose of competitiveness in the hot hatch segment.
May 2017 was not a particularly healthy sales month for either of South Korea’s two major automakers in the United States. Including Hyundai’s Genesis spinoff brand, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group declined 12 percent, year-over-year — a loss of more than 15,000 sales for the trio of Korean brands compared with May 2016.
Korea’s U.S. auto market share thus fell to 7.8 percent in May 2017, a drop of a full percentage point. In a market that’s seen sales fall 2 percent overall through the first five months of 2017, total Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group sales are down 7 percent following record annual volume in 2016.
Hyundai and Kia both underperformed the market in May, just as they’re both underperforming the market through the first five months of 2017. But by an altogether different standard, one member of the group will be pleased with May’s U.S. sales results.
In May 2017, for the first time in the brands’ U.S. sales history, Kia sold more new vehicles than Hyundai. Kia outsold Hyundai. Yes, it was the first time. But it surely won’t be the last.
Amid stagnating U.S. sales, a crash-dive in China, and a product lineup not optimally suited for growth, Hyundai is furiously crafting a salvation plan.
In North America and other utility-loving countries, the strategy is clear: more crossovers and a significant product shakeup. The little Kona is already on the way, though perhaps not as quickly as Hyundai had hoped.
China, however, presents a serious problem for the automaker. What was supposed to be a growth market for the company has now turned into the opposite. Hyundai’s share of the market has shrunk to 5 percent from last year’s 8.1 percent, which was down from years past. In March alone, after news of South Korea’s installation of a U.S.-supplied anti-missile defense system, Hyundai and Kia sales dropped 52 percent.
Determined to make the Chinese fall back into love, the automaker has a plan brewing.