SEOUL -- While other automakers eye possible partners and mergers, Hyundai Motor Co. looks to go it alone, a top executive says.
But that could mean compromises , including the inability to create a second retail channel for luxury cars.
Hyundai CEO Steve S. Yang said the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, the world's No. 4 automaker, is capable of continuing its growth without needing to ally with another large automaker.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, disagrees. He thinks alliances bring the economies of scale that automakers need to enter all segments and pursue all necessary avenues of research.
Yang also said Hyundai likely will add a second North American plant once the Hyundai brand's U.S. sales top 1 million. Hyundai's Alabama plant already is at capacity, sparking talk that it will borrow capacity from Kia's coming plant in Georgia.
Hyundai brand sales in the United States totaled 435,064 last year but are expected to be well above 500,000 this year. Before the economic crisis, Hyundai's goal was to reach 1 million sales by 2010. Yang declined to give a new timing for that goal.
Hyundai has entered into past joint ventures with enthusiasm, but "I am not certain if our partners have had the same level of enthusiasm," Yang said at the media introduction here of the Sonata Turbo and Sonata Hybrid. "Once you get the basics, you should be able to do it yourself."
He noted that Hyundai, facing a decision whether to fund further movement into green vehicles or pursue a performance line of cars, will follow the green path first.
Yang quashed rumors that Hyundai might create a separate luxury retail channel in the United States for the Equus and Genesis vehicle lines. He said Toyota has been the only mainstream brand that has been successful with a separate luxury channel.
"The separate brand was not the main reason of the success" of Lexus, Yang said, "but the marketing cost was. When Lexus was launched, Toyota spent huge amounts of money."