Hyundai Motor Japan is intensifying price competition in Japan. The Korean maker has priced its cars 10 percent to 20 percent below the Japanese competition.
Imports in Japan traditionally competed on the basis of prestige an rarely have competed on price. If Hyundai's strategy is successful, and Japanese carmakers are forced to respond with lower prices, that could hurt profits in a home market where Japanese makers already are scraping to find profits.
To be sure Hyundai is hardly a major threat to Toyota Motor Corp. and its peers. When the Hyundai Elantra sedan, Santa Fe sport-utility and Trajet minivan went on sale in January, Hyundai Japan had 10 dealers in Japan, plus company-owned showrooms in Tokyo and Osaka. That will rise to 40 later this year, to support targeted sales of 6,000 in 2001.
Still, the price for the Elantra with a base 1.8-liter engine is 1,299,000 yen, or $11,295 at current exchange rates. That is well below cars roughly comparable in size.