Few brands can boast the type of growth Hyundai Motor America Inc. has demonstrated in the past few years. Since bottoming out in 1998 with 90,000 sales, Hyundai sales grew to 375,119 in 2002.
From a dealer's standpoint, the growth is nothing but good news. And, through it, Hyundai Motor America CEO Finbarr O'Neill has gained the respect of Hyundai dealers, including Hyundai Dealer Council Chairman Don Reilly.
The next chapter for Hyundai essentially will be turning the corner from a Tier 2 import brand to a Tier 1 - with sales numbers and vehicle reputation on a par with Honda and Toyota. Hyundai and its dealers agree on the direction but not on how to get there.
Dealers have been tapping their fingers for new products. They've received nothing since the XG300 and Santa Fe were introduced in 2000.
Meanwhile, Hyundai has made public its plans to expand U.S. sales to 500,000 by 2005 and to 1 million by 2010.
Reilly owns two Hyundai dealerships in Virginia. He spoke with Staff Reporter Joe Kohn about the prospects of reaching those numbers and of the adjustments Hyundai's dealers must make to facilitate the growth.