Dealers asked Hyundai Motor America for a rebadged version of the Kia Sedona minivan, saying they can't wait until 2007 for Hyundai to bring one of its own to the United States.
"Fresh product is king, and we need additions to the brand," said Don Reilly, speaking after the Hyundai make meeting. "We want them to accelerate the product cycle so that we're competitive."
Hyundai entered the U.S. market in 1986, and those early customers now want minivans.
"As an interim stopgap, we want the Sedona until we get our own minivan," Reilly said. "This week is the first time we have been given consideration for it."
Hyundai America CEO Finbarr O'Neill said rebadging "is a complicated issue," because there are risks using another maker's vehicle. But he said dealers were promised that "we would look at it, and that implies a response."
Other product issues also dominated the meeting.
Hyundai told dealers a small SUV is coming and a mid-sized version is being considered, Reilly said. "We asked them to accelerate those and to give us a full-sized truck," he said.
Three days before the dealer meeting, Hyundai Motor Corp. CEO D.J. Kim said the maker was considering a small or medium-sized pickup for the United States but not a large pickup because it would compete too closely with vehicles made by the Big 3.
Dealers don't think small pickups are adequate. "If we go into the truck business, we would like to do it right like Nissan did with a full-sized truck and a V-8," said Reilly.
O'Neill said that the issue is being "reviewed," and that he didn't consider it "a must" for Hyundai because the SUVs and minivan were a higher priority.
Kim also said the company is considering a luxury car with a V-8 engine.
Hyundai also told dealers about new 0 percent financing for 36 months, and dealers protested that it wasn't adequate in light of the competitive incentives in today's market.
"What we would like is a real 0 percent for 60 months," said Reilly.
O'Neill said Hyundai offered 0 percent for 60 months in November of 2001. "We haven't done it for a while, but it's an option for the future," he said. "We have a competitive set of incentives, strong dealer cash and rebates; our products are priced near or at the true transaction price. We try to minimize the rebates because it has a negative impact on residuals."