Marked by anti-Korean sentiment in its greatest market and losing ground to regional automakers, Hyundai Motor is going to open its first Chinese brand shop, and regionally assemble its premium Genesis vehicles and speed up the launch of a sport-utility vehicle (SUV), people knowledgeable about the plans stated.
The procedures are aimed at rebooting the South Korean firm’s branding in China, where numerous see Hyundai as a lower-end maker of city taxis.
Hyundai and its affiliate Kia were not long ago ranked third amongst foreign auto brand names in China, but latest sales have been hit by a customer reaction over South Korea’s deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system which Beijing opposes.
Experts say the diplomatic row masks wider issues for Hyundai/Kia in China: poor brand recognition and a model line-up resisting regional brands’ more affordable SUVs.
“Hyundai has an in-between brand that does not have a clear identity in China, and there’s the background of bad China-Korea relations,” stated James Chao, Shanghai-based Asia-Pacific chief of IHS Markit Automotive.
“Recently introduced SUVs ought to help, however they are late to the game.”
Even before the missile systems row, Hyundai/Kia’s China market share toppled to 8.1 percent in 2016, the lowest in eight years. This year, it has moved even more to 5 percent.