Hyundai dealers are getting much of what they've asked for over the last couple of years, including a rejuvenated line of crossovers and a more friendly resolution of the Genesis retail debacle.
But there's still something high on the wish list that they'll be eager to hear more about today when they meet with brand leaders: an update on a pickup that would nicely cap Hyundai's expanded line of light trucks.
Hyundai has said it's developing a compact pickup that could reach the U.S. in 2021, based on the Santa Cruz concept shown in Detroit in 2015, though Hyundai Motor Co. CEO Wonhee Lee was careful to say that the project hasn't been greenlighted for production yet.
"I would love to see that pickup truck come out," said Scott Stark, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council. "That's an underserved market."
For now, Hyundai dealers, including those who sell Genesis products, have little to complain about on the product front. Hyundai's new Kona small crossover won North American Utility of the Year, and Genesis' G70 sports sedan won the car honors. Two more crossovers, the three-row Palisade and a small one to slot below the Kona, will arrive this year. Genesis soon could get its first crossover, the GV80.
"I feel pretty good about the fact that we're migrating to run more parallel to what the market demands," said Stark, president of South Point Automotive Group in Austin, Texas.
But Hyundai dealers will have to contend with headwinds that will challenge their profitability in the years ahead. Affordability, long a hallmark of the Hyundai brand, is a dealer concern as interest rates climb and the product mix shifts more toward light trucks. Executives, meanwhile, are trying to steer the brand away from a purely price-based appeal to emphasize online shopping convenience and customer experience.
"The Hyundai has always been a lot of car for the money," said Stark. "Over the years, the parity has crept up and they are starting to get on a price plane with Toyota, Honda and Nissan. I'd like to keep that price advantage."