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Hyundai eyes 10 per cent

Growing bigger: Hyundai's new i45 will be pivotal to its plan to become a top-three player in the Australian car market.

Resurgent Korean maker predicts million market as Hyundai eyes 10 per cent by 2012

24 May 2010

HYUNDAI has targeted a market share of just under 10 per cent in Australia in 2012 – well up on the 6.1 per cent share it achieved last year and just short of the 10.3 per cent share Ford has achieved over the past two years – as part of its mid-term drive to become a top-three automotive brand here.

The world’s fifth-largest car-maker and fastest growing mainstream brand in Australia out-sold Ford, Australia’s number three brand, for the first time in February, when it attracted a best-ever monthly market share of 8.8 per cent.

Hyundai sales are up a staggering 65.4 per cent after the first four months of 2010, with almost 28,000 sales equating to an 8.4 per cent market share – the same as fourth-placed Mazda, but well up on Hyundai’s official share target of 7.5 per cent for this year and close to its stated share forecast of just under nine per cent in 2011.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia director of sales Damien Meredith says the Korean auto giant will sell at least 75,000 of the million-plus vehicles he expects to be sold in Australia this year – well up from the 63,207 record set last year, when Hyundai sales were 39 per cent up in a market that declined 7.4 per cent.

“If you look at it over the last decade there hasn’t been much below 900,000 (annual sales), so the market’s looking pretty healthy,” said Mr Meredith at last week’s launch of Hyundai’s new Sonata, which is now known in Australia as the i45.

“We’re pretty confident the market will be well and truly over a million this year. We expect to do 75,000 this year – we’ll probably do a little bit better than that, but our stated target is 75,000 in 2010 … so this year we expect to have a market share of 7.5 per cent.”

 center imageFrom top: Hyundai i45, Hyundai ix35 and Hyundai i20.

Apart from being the best sales result since Hyundai arrived in Australia in 1986, 75,000 sales would also represent the consistent sale growth Hyundai has sought since crashing to 46,500 sales and a 4.5 per cent share in 2008, when the global financial crisis struck.

Before last year’s record, Hyundai sales peaked at about 59,800 vehicles in 1997, when the Excel accounted for 65 per cent of all sales, before contracting to 57,200 in 1998, reaching a low point of 30,900 in 2003 and hovering below 50,000 until 2007.

“In the long term we want to have sustained growth,” said Mr Meredith. “We don’t want to be up one year and down the next. We’ve worked hard to achieve that consistency … Great new products should give us sustained growth over the next couple of years.”

The HMCA sales chief praised the federal government’s 50 per cent small business tax incentive, which helped boost company car sales both last year – when a total of 937,328 vehicles were sold – and so far in 2010.

“There were some good decisions by the government last year and that helped keep the market well above 900,000 last year,” said Mr Meredith.

To April this year the seasonalised annual sales rate stands at 1.057 million vehicles – better than both the Australian market’s 2008 result of 1,012,164 vehicles and its record of 1,049,982, set in 2007.

Before the sales boom across the board in April, most car companies and industry analysts predicted a 2010 Australian new-vehicle market of about 965,000 sales.

Unlike some brands that cleared inventories to meet lower demand last year, Hyundai says it will not be caught short by a lack of stock this year – with the exception of its new ix35 compact SUV, which has proved even more popular than expected since being released in February.

“We’ll have enough cars to supply what we want to do this year, there’s no question about that,” said Mr Meredith. “It might not be the mix that we want – that’s another question. The ix35 has been a great success and is a little bit behind in terms of supply versus demand.”

While the all-new light-sized i20 hatchback will be Hyundai’s third major new model release this year, the company expects its new mid-sized i45 sedan to attract at least 500 customers a month, totalling about 4000 sales this year and 6000 in 2011.

Although that’s well below the 20,000-plus examples of the locally built Camry sold by market leader Toyota last year – when about 8750 versions of the Mazda6 were also sold, making Australia’s top-selling privately purchased medium sedan – it is well up on the 943 Sonatas Hyundai sold in 2009.

Mr Meredith said he expected 30 per cent of i45 sales to go to business customers this year, increasing to 50 per cent over the life of the model, with sales forecast to come from a variety of premium Japanese rivals as well as the Camry and even Holden’s Commodore and Ford’s Falcon.

“Sonata was in a valley between the prestige Japanese models and local fleet cars,” said Mr Meredith. “Now the i45 is directly in the Mazda, (Honda) Accord (Euro) and (Subaru) Liberty segment, but should also get share from a range of local fleet models.”

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