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Kicking goals against the wind

Sales boost: The Hyundai i30 is helping to change perceptions about Korean small cars.

Good things come in small packages as market makes headway

9 Jun 2009

IT IS tempting to think the new-vehicle market may be on the mend.

As with the global financial crisis, everyone is constantly looking for “the little green shoots of recovery” that will signal we are coming near to the end of the tunnel.

While a 14.9 per cent drop in VFACTS registrations in May is clearly better than the 19.2 per cent decline year to date, the pessimists will want to wait for a few more swallows to appear before they declare the trauma over.

But there were some welcome improvements in sales during the month, partly thanks to the extraordinary rapid depreciation allowance the federal government put in place for small businesses.

The depreciation allowance – first 30 per cent and then boosted to 50 per cent – lit a fire under the locally made Holden and Ford utes, while the imported Triton and Navara were also ahead of the previous May.

There was also a lot of action in the small car class where Hyundai’s i30 started to kick some goals. Its success gave Hyundai a second entrant in the month’s top 10 sellers, behind Toyota’s four but ahead of Holden, Ford, Mazda and Subaru, each with one model in the top 10.

The i30 has been well promoted lately, with much made of its win in the category for best mid-sized car under $28,000 as judged by the country’s motoring clubs. The award appears to have been the thing that has finally convinced many buyers that it is time to try the cheap alternative.

Being budget conscious does not mean you have to miss out, either as you get a five-star crash rating and the option of diesel power, it’s not as if you are going without in crucial areas.

The i30 rocketed up 155 per cent in volume, May on May, making up for the decline in Elantra volume and eating into other companies’ sales. This lifted the i30 from a lowly ninth in the small car sector to third, and a comfortable third at that, on 1959 sales to the 1188 of Mitsubishi’s Lancer.

The Getz is still second in the light-car class and, while it eased 8.9 per cent in May, it was still one of the better performed entrants in this class.

Together, the i30 and the Getz generate 65 per cent of Hyundai’s volume, which has grown so rapidly the company has jumped past Nissan and Mitsubishi to move from seventh to fifth on the market share table year to date with a share of 6.3 per cent (6.9 per cent in May).

The story is also good for Hyundai’s little brother, Kia, whose sales volumes in May defied gravity to rise 1.2 per cent. It has been more resilient than many others and it has risen from 12th to 11th year to date, to a 2.2 per cent share.

The Hyundai story is being repeated around the world and, with improving engineering, European style and Korean pricing, its products must be starting to look a little irresistible to the opposition.

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