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Volume not Hyundai Australia’s top priority

Booted: Hyundai could sell the i40 sedan variant alongside the Tourer wagon in Australia from next year.

Customer satisfaction still top focus for Hyundai as it contemplates i40 sedan

19 Oct 2011

HYUNDAI Australia will prioritise customer satisfaction ahead of outright sales volume as it prepares to release at least two new models in the coming months, with the strong possibility of a third in the form of an i40 sedan. Chief executive of the company’s Australian operations, Edward Lee, told GoAuto at last week’s launch of the i40 Tourer that the brand did not consider overall volume to be its number one objective, even though it is close to overtaking Mazda as the local market’s number one full-line vehicle importer.

“That (number one importer) is not our goal, actually,” he said. “Our goal is to be the most trusted company. CSI (customer satisfaction index) number one company is our goal.

“(While) everybody wants to be number one market-share company, it is not our ultimate goal.

“Next year we will not try to expand a lot of market share, just enhance our brand.”

Hyundai Australia may further expand its footprint in the medium-size vehicle segment by offering sedan variants of its Mazda6-rivalling i40 range alongside the newly launched Tourer wagon.

The company has confirmed it is “profusely” studying the business case for adding an i40 sedan here alongside the larger and more US-focused i45 sedan, in a similar arrangement to Honda, which sells both the Accord wide-body and the Accord Euro in Australia.

1 center imageLeft: Hyundai i40 sedan. Below: Veloster, next-generation i30, i40 Tourer.

It will share its two-engine line-up sith the Tourer, meaning a 2.0-litre petrol unit with 130kW of power and 213Nm of torque and a 1.7-litre CRDi turbo-diesel with 100kW and up to 330Nm.

European examples of the sedan will be fitted with seven airbags as standard – two less than the Tourer – as well as a host of active safety features including ESC, ABS, hill start assist, brake assist and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM).

Should the car arrive here, expect pricing to slip beneath that of the Tourer, which kicks off at $32,490 for the petrol-powered Active with six-speed manual transmission.

The company has already released three all-new models into Australia this year, with the i40 Tourer joining the Elantra small sedan and Accent light-size hatch.

The Korean brand is currently the fifth-highest-selling car-maker in Australia with 65,129 sales to the end of September, just short of Mazda’s 65,955.

Despite running out of stock of its volume-selling but now discontinued Getz in September, Hyundai picked up the slack with a huge increase in sales of its Indian-built i20 hatchback.

By the end of this year, Hyundai will receive its first shipments of the quirky Veloster coupe/hatch crossover, although the car’s launch may be pushed back to early 2012 depending on stock levels.

The middle of next year will see the introduction of the second-generation version of its top-selling model, the i30 small car, to fight against a raft of new or facelifted models in Australia’s most popular segment.

As we’ve reported, the new version Hyundai’s acclaimed i30 – designed in the same German design centre as the i40 range – will bring claimed improvements to design, quality, performance and efficiency.

Mazda will defend its position with its own new-model program, complementing the introduction of the facelifted ‘3’ with the release of the new BT-50 ute in November and the all-new CX-5 compact SUV and a new Mazda6 mid-size range next year.

Meanwhile, the country’s sixth most popular brand, Nissan, also aims to be Australia’s number one full-line importer by early 2013 and to own 10 per cent of the new vehicle market as part of its ‘GT2012’ plan. >

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