Hyundai dealers seek incentives to sell off 2013 models

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NEW ORLEANS -- Hyundai's U.S. dealers are hungry for additional incentive support to clear out leftover 2013 inventory as the brand seeks to recover U.S. market share.

Despite being generally positive, with applause often punctuating Hyundai's nearly two-hour make meeting here at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, dealers voiced concerns about excess 2013 model year inventories, and some asked the factory for extra incentives to clear out outdated models.

Hyundai carried over more 2013 models into 2014 than usual due to production of freshened vehicles such as the Sonata and Elantra that started late in the year, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski said after the make meeting.

He acknowledged that some dealers want additional incentives, but cautioned that extra spiffs may not be warranted. Some regions have excessive 2013 model year inventories, while others don't, thus Hyundai has to be careful with its incentive spending, Zuchowski said.

"What a dealer sees is a lot of 2013s on the ground. What we see is we have 20,000 '13s on the ground and we sold 13,000 last month. Does that signal a problem?" Zuchowski said. "I get it. They want to be done with them and focus on the '14s, and we talked about that. We believe we have a really good incentive structure to sell down the 2013s."

John St. George, general manager of Eastern Shore Hyundai in Daphne, Ala., said Hyundai increased marketing and incentive funding for dealers over the course of 2013. However, he said, dealers would like a clearer incentive plan for the year.

"They obviously see the point behind it. It's just about getting out ahead of it," St. George said. "Here we are at the end of the first month of the year, and we really don't have that finite clear cut plan yet, but as a Hyundai dealer, we're confident that Korea is going to put the money behind it."

Aside from the incentive issues, dealers after the meeting were generally upbeat about Hyundai's prospects in 2014.

Zuchowski has said Hyundai aims to boost sales by 3 percent to about 745,000 vehicles in 2014. He aims to boost the brand's U.S. market share back to 5 percent within the next few years through steady, modest growth.

The Hyundai brand's U.S. market share slid to 4.6 percent in 2013 from 4.9 percent in 2012.

Hyundai officials also showed dealers its two commercials scheduled to air during Sunday's Super Bowl telecast, and previewed some digital advertising initiatives for the redesigned Genesis sedan's spring launch. Hyundai also outlined its plans to introduce the redesigned 2015 Sonata starting in July during the FIFA World Cup.

Mike Stedem, a Hyundai dealer from Slidell, La., praised the accessibility and openness of Hyundai's executives.

"There's a great deal of dealer confidence in Dave," said Stedem. "We were Ford dealers for 54 years. The connectivity with this company is just phenomenal."

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter


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