Podium skir­mish

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - NEWS - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@news.com.au

A QUIET year on the new­model front is not stop­ping Hyundai from mount­ing a show­room chal­lenge that could top­ple Holden from the podium in Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing.

The Korean maker aims to reprise its 2015 tally of 102,000 sales despite the loss of its baby i20 — and be­lieves that could be good enough for third be­hind Toy­ota and Mazda.

Its new model on­slaught be­gins next year with the new i30 and Veloster, the Ioniq green car and a sec­ond Ge­n­e­sis model but chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer Scott Grant re­mains bullish about this year.

“Last year we dropped i20 and that was worth about 10,000 sales. We would like to hold at the same level as last year but that’s a stiff chal­lenge. Ev­ery­thing has to lift but it’s not easy to do in such a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket.”

The only new Hyundai this year is the Elantra, the sedan ver­sion of the next i30 hatch.

The brand has al­ready had a month as over­all mar­ket leader. Grant aims to cap­i­talise as Holden winds down pro­duc­tion of its lo­cally made Com­modore and Cruze.

He be­lieves 102,000 Hyundai sales would bump Holden from third place but at­tain­ing such a re­sult “will de­pend a bit on what they do and what they have planned. We’re re­ally not that fo­cused on any other brand.

“(In Aus­tralia) we’re look­ing to max­imise what we do.”

Grant also re­veals the com­pany did not cel­e­brate its No. 1 sales fin­ish in April. “Cel­e­bra­tions? None at all ... we’re not that kind of an or­gan­i­sa­tion. There is a con­tin­u­ous drive to keep mov­ing for­ward. Any mile­stone is nice but it’s not the end of the road. There wasn’t any ‘stop and re­flect’ mo­ment.”

Even so, Grant doesn’t rule out even­tu­ally top­ping the sales charts for more than just a month and cites the con­tin­u­ous re­fresh­ing of the Hyundai lineup, ex­tra mod­els such as the Ioniq and baby Ge­n­e­sis and greater com­mit­ment to cus­tomers and deal­ers here.

“It’s not the be-all or end-all. It doesn’t make sense to fo­cus on one par­tic­u­lar out­come.”

Hyundai’s sce­nario doesn’t get a lot of trac­tion with Holden. The brand will get a sales boost soon with the ar­rival of a new Colorado ute in Au­gust and the re­turn of the As­tra later in the year.

Boss Mark Bern­hard says the brand won’t be blindly chas­ing vol­ume at all costs but will be look­ing to grow sales.

“We’re cer­tainly not happy with where we are from a share per­spec­tive so far this year in par­tic­u­lar. We’ve got a lot of work to do around mak­ing sure we’re treat­ing the cus­tomers the right way, re­ju­ve­nat­ing the brand and launch­ing new prod­ucts. So we’re ab­so­lutely do­ing all those things for the long term. ... we’ll be chas­ing sales as hard as we can in June.”

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