Hyundai Motor America CEO Bob Cosmai: ''Our sales growth in California is not what we'd like to see.''
CEO Bob Cosmai says Hyundai lags import-brand stalwarts Toyota and Honda in being on shopping lists of Californians. The state is the largest retail market in the country, with one in eight vehicles sold there.
"Our sales growth in California is not what we'd like to see," Cosmai said in an interview at the media introduction here of the redesigned Accent sedan and new Azera sedan, which replaces the XG350. "We need to put more focus on California and the Sun Belt states."
In 2004, California accounted for 8.3 percent of Hyundai's retail sales -- 29,917 of 360,654 nationwide, according to 2004 R.L. Polk data. By contrast, Toyota Division made 20.4 percent of its U.S. retail sales to California customers. That's more than 333,000 vehicles. Fleet sales were not included in the figures.
To grab more sales in the Golden State, Hyundai will try to conquest more import shoppers.
Hyundai also will increase ethnic marketing to Hispanics and Asians, Cosmai said.
Cosmai hopes Hyundai's new products will help improve customer loyalty. In 1999, 18 percent of Hyundai shoppers stayed with Hyundai; in 2004, 56 percent did.
But Hyundai's loyalty rate lags badly in California, he said.
"If we matched our national (loyalty) average in California, we would have sold 23,000 more Hyundais last year," Cosmai said.
Cosmai is realistic about the challenge ahead: "Toyota retails 350,000 cars in California, with an $80 million ad spend. We can't spend what they spend."
Hyundai also may get lingering resistance from California customers who in the late 1980s eagerly embraced -- and then were burned by -- the original Hyundai Excel car, which suffered from poor quality.
Hyundai's California strategy is part of a national plan to boost the dealership count by 75 showrooms nationwide by the end of 2006. That would bring Hyundai's dealer count to 750.
Cosmai declined to say how many of the new dealerships would be in California.
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