just-auto.com

UK: Hyundai launches "most important" car

By just-auto.com editorial team | 9 August 2007

Hyundai Motor UK managing director Tony Whitehorn has claimed the newly-launched i30 hatchback "is set to change the face of Hyundai in Europe.

"It is not only the most important car that Hyundai has ever launched in the UK, it heralds a dramatic shift in image and attitude that will [change people's perception] of the whole Hyundai brand," he said.

"A key contributor to this shift will be the sheer quality and equipment levels of the i30, matched with incredible affordability."

Marketing director Jim Campbell expects sales of between 12,000 and 15,000 i30s in the UK each year once the range is completed in the first quarter of next year with the introduction of five-door wagon models. It is offered here with 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol engines and 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesels with automatic options for both 1.6-litre motors.

"Currently we have no plans to introduce three-door hatchbacks but that decision will be constantly reviewed as we see how the overall C-segment develops in the UK and Europe as a whole".

The i30 - initially made in Korea but due to be produced in the Czech Republic from 2009 - is Hyundai's version of affiliate Kia's Slovak-built Ceed, already on sale.

Campbell added: "In the UK we will sell around 33,000 new cars this year but our plan is to grow our market share to 3%, in the region of 70,000 vehicle sales annually by 2012. This growth will be brought about by the introduction of more new models, designed in Europe for Europe - the i30 is the first of them.

 "We will be building our sales in a considered manner. We are essentially a retail brand with 80% of sales going to private buyers. We will focus only on profitable business and concentrate on the retail sector. But we are now in a position with our new European styled and engineered products to attack the fleet and business car sectors and we are already becoming less involved with unprofitable daily rental business.

"We have no plans to increase our warranty to seven years. Our manufacturer's five-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty, now in its sixth year, covers all our model ranges. I see longer warranties now being introduced by others on just some models within their overall range as a tactical sales gimmick."

He said the UK dealer network would be expanded from the current 140 outlets up to 180 to 200 to achieve the target of 70,000 sales a year.