• Jul 5, 2010
2011 Hyundai Sonata – Click above for high-res image gallery

It seems that Hyundai is having a very similar problem to Buick in its home market. Overseas customers can't get enough of its products, but buyers at home are rather ho-hum. Just as Buick is huge in China, Hyundai models are selling like gangbusters in North America and Europe. However, in South Korea, Hyundai sales have dropped for three months in a row. Interestingly, sister brand Kia is seeing robust sales for its just introduced K5 (Optima in the U.S.) and Sportage with total volumes up by 49 percent compared to 2009.

Lack of fresh product is blamed for the 1.2 percent decline at Hyundai, although the new Tucson and Sonata were launched just last Fall. Hyundai has several new products coming in August with the new Elantra and Accent as well as the new Veloster coupe (or whatever it ends up being called), and those new models may spur an increase in domestic sales.



[Source: Reuters]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I also think that there is less aversion to buying a foreign car (and the Korean govt. has stopped auditing those buying foreign cars) Honda and Toyota are increasing their sales albeit from a low point and the Germans are of course doing well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Sonata looks great and possesses incredible gas efficiency.

      However, Hyundai Sonata's are frequently used as taxis in the domestic market. If I lived in Korea, I wouldn't want the same car as a taxi.

      That would be like driving a Ford Crown Victoria in the U.S. without the looks or fuel efficiency.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in South Korea, and there is simply no contest against the new Kia products. The K5, K7, and Sportage are all REALLY good looking cars. They are actually more than deserving of lengthy study from the curb.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you've been keeping track of the KDM as of late, which most of you commentators seemingly haven't (regardless of the fact that Autoblog kept us updated on the matter), you'd be aware that Hyundai is losing marketshare to Toyota in Korea.

      Daewoo's always been a bottom feeder (GM's focus on small cars for Daewoo didn't help), and Kia is following the Korean vehicular trends (larger vehicles, SUVs, style) right now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the reason is because they sell Hyundai's in Korea for far much more money than what they sell them for here. America has the biggest car buyers in the world so they are going to price them to sell.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A couple of people from Korea told me the same thing: that in general, Kia is considered to be a better brand than Hyundai. At first I couldn't believe them. I asked a friend who's working in Korea to ask around and most of her co-workers have similar opinions in that Kia is better, if only slightly. This is just anecdotal though.

      Still, the latest Kia vehicles are very nice indeed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does buick sell a large amount of their cars to daily rental lots in china as well as have a rapidly expanding product portfolio which exacerbates sales gains?

      If so, then it is apples to apples.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Uh no. People actually buy them than go to rentals. And here in the home country, GM heavily reduced fleet sales of its vehicles. Most of they sales now are to individual customers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hyundai is perceived as an evil corporation in Korea right now...

      They charge much higher prices for base models without any options...and people are starting to take notice.

      Couple that to the scandals that have hit Hyundai in the last year at home (KDM models have parts manufactured in Korea, export models have parts made in Germany, etc), and its no wonder they're starting to slow down.

      Ironically, while people know that Hyundai and Kia are one, they still prefer Kia...
        • 4 Years Ago
        You guys are both wrong. Hyundai/Kia isn't any more unoriginal than any other mainstream automakers (especially last 3 years or so), and base Sonata in Korea is 220,000 won, which about 18,000 dollars - an incredible price considering that is the price with the 5-10% sales tax included in the price (I've been to South Korea literally a dozen times because of my engineering business... and they have sales tax included in the whole price that customers pay), and I've seen many of what would be included in the SE, Limited and Option package just coming standard in the base package (Minus the 2.0 engine instead of 2.4, and 4 airbags instead of 6, side airbags are optional)
        • 4 Years Ago
        I see them as an evil copycat corp here in the U.S.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Perhaps Koreans know something that Americans dont.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sonata sales have been astronomical over the past year in Korea (completely dominating the mid-size market); it's only natural for sales to come down to earth, esp. since Kia has the new Optima on the lots.

      Having said that, the K7/Cadenza, Sorento and Sportage will probably continue to outsell the Azera (even when the new Azera launches), Santa Fe and Tuscon.

      The one Hyundai model which should win out over the Kia offering will be the new Elantra.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So the numbers for KDM among domestic manufacturers read,

      From May -> June
      Hyundai: 42.5 -> 40.3
      Kia: 34.6 -> 36.8
      Renault-Samsung (Renault-Nissan owned):11.7 -> 12.1
      GM Daewoo: 8.9 -> 8.3
      Ssangyong: 2.3 -> 2.5

      Hyundai-Kia rule the domestic marketshare, obviously. Sonata is selling both the older version (taxi) and the new one, while Kia has migrated its Optima to the new K5 outright. People aren't that high on either maker, to be frank, but deem that the K5 has better design. Quality? Koreans would love to be able to pick up Toyotas and Hondas but imports are still expensive, and selection is limited.

      GM Daewoo is an interesting case, basically they are making do with Cruze and Spark, but neither are beating the competition. In case of Cruze, it hasn't reached US shores yet but its losing out to Kia Forte, Renault-Samsung's some Renault based SM3 sedan, and soon to be obsolete Elentra and i30 duo.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Unlike the previous generation, the new Optima is mechanically identical to the new Sonata, so I think this is just a case of more people preferring the geometrical design of Optima. Optima's interior also looks nicer too (at least to my eyeballs)
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