Hyundai headquarters once again is cranking up the pressure on the brand's U.S. executives. Reports out of South Korea say the parent company is aiming for a 5 percent share in the United States this year. Last year Hyundai's share was 3.0 percent.
Hyundai execs in California aren't commenting. Hyundai dealers would like to know what the guys in Seoul are smoking.
"We expect ... economic stimulus measures and support plans for the auto industry to have some positive effect," Hyundai Motor Corp.'s CFO, Chung Tae-hwan, told reporters and analysts last month.
Chung cited the brand's higher incentives and Hyundai Assurance, a program that allows buyers to return vehicles if they lose their jobs within a year.
Seoul set ambitious U.S. goals of more than 500,000 sales in 2007 and 2008, but Hyundai fell well short of achieving them. The brand sold 401,742 vehicles in 2008 and 467,009 in 2007. Several top U.S. execs appeared to pay with their jobs for not meeting the goals.
True, Hyundai's share is rising. It was one of a handful of brands to report a sales increase in the first quarter of this year, before posting an April slide of 13.6 percent. Hyundai's share has risen from 3.7 percent in January to 4.3 percent over the first four months of this year.
"We're making share gains in a shrinking pie," John Krafcik, acting CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in March. "But it will be really tough to hold at four. To even hold in the high threes would be huge."
Scott Fink, chairman of the Hyundai dealer council, said he hasn't heard anything about a 5 percent goal
Said Fink: "I think those are pie-in-the-sky numbers."