Hyundai president wants dealers to spruce up service

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. - Finbarr O'Neill, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, will tell dealers this week that with Hyundai sales on a record pace he wants them to expand and upgrade their service departments.

O'Neill will speak at the company's dealer meeting today and Tuesday, Oct. 9, in Toronto.

While Hyundai ranks slightly above the industry average in the repair index of the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index, the auto company does not perform as well on the maintenance index.

"As far as we can figure out, our dealers can get the car serviced, but they maybe need more facilities, more bays, etc., so that people can more readily schedule their maintenance," said O'Neill, at a press event here.

The maintenance index covers such work as oil changes, brake jobs, and belt and hose replacements. The automaker ranks well below the industry average, said John Harvicht, senior manager in charge of service satisfaction at J.D. Power and Associates.

"The key is, does the dealer have a facility that meets the expectations of people in the community? Can he provide service? I will appeal to dealers not so much to build the Hyundai brand but to build their own brand," O'Neill said.

But his message will fall short of a requirement: "At this stage, I'm asking them to improve their facilities."

Hyundai has made a dramatic rebound in the United States since 1998 when it sold 90,217 vehicles. Hyundai expects to sell about 320,000 units this calendar year, compared with its previous record of 263,610 vehicles, set in 1987. The record is expected to be broken this month.

September sales rose 44 percent over the year-ago period, Hyundai's eighth straight record month.

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