Hyundai U.S. chief signals investment in capacity, light trucks
John Krafcik: "If you look forward a few years, and you say, 'Gosh, if Hyundai can figure out their capacity constraints, and if Hyundai could invest on the truck and crossover side as they have on the car side of the business,' the brand could have a pretty good future going forward."
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co., headed for its first annual decline in U.S. market share since 1998, plans to address production constraints and invest in trucks and crossovers, the automaker's sales chief for the country said today.
The Hyundai brand passed Ford Motor Co.'s namesake brand in car sales to retail buyers during the first six months of the year, John Krafcik, CEO of the South Korean company's U.S. sales unit, told reporters at an event in Brooklyn, Mich. The company just started production of the new 2013 Santa Fe sport-utility vehicle.
"If you look forward a few years, and you say, 'Gosh, if Hyundai can figure out their capacity constraints, and if Hyundai could invest on the truck and crossover side as they have on the car side of the business,'" Krafcik said, then "the brand could have a pretty good future going forward."
Hyundai accounted for 4.9 percent of U.S. car and light-truck sales in this year's first half, down from 5.1 percent a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Tight production capacity and Chairman Chung Mong Koo's push to improve quality may slow Hyundai's U.S. sales gains this year, Krafcik said in February.
The South Korean company's U.S. market share fell as its first-half sales increase of 10 percent trailed the industry's 15 percent gain. Hyundai posted record sales of 356,669 vehicles for the six months and is boosting output later this year at its Alabama assembly plant.
The Montgomery, Ala., factory will add a third shift in September, increasing capacity there by 20,000 units this year. The plant currently can build at least 300,000 Sonata sedans and Elantra small cars a year.
Hyundai's first-half U.S. sales growth trailed gains at Chrysler Group LLC and Volkswagen AG, which each increased deliveries by 30 percent. In addition, Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales rose 29 percent and Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. reported larger gains than Hyundai.
South Korean union workers at Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. this week voted to authorize what would be Hyundai's first strike since 2008. South Korean plants accounted for 46 percent of Hyundai's production capacity in 2011, a decrease from 60 percent in 2008 and 93 percent in 2000. Hyundai Motor's union, which ended discussions with management June 28, has agreed to resume negotiations with the company on July 18, according to Kim Gi Hyuk, a union spokesman, and an e-mailed response from the company today.
The workers' authorization vote was a blow to Hyundai and Kia, whose improvement in labor relations helped them increase sales faster than any other major global auto group the past four years. Hyundai estimates strikes from 1987 to 2008 led to lost sales of more than 1 million vehicles valued at 11.6 trillion won ($10 billion).Contact Automotive News