The automotive business is a good place to be these days. Canadian sales climbed 3% in 2015 to a record high of 1.9 million units, a number that analysts expect the industry to match this year if the economy doesn’t fall off even more. It all sounds pretty rosy, unless allyoudoissellcars.Thenumberofcarssoldactuallydeclinedlastyearby6%to714,000, whichwasoffsetbygrowthintruckandSUVsales.Indeed,moretrucksthancarsweresold forthefourthyearinarowandthegapisexpectedtowidenagainthisyear.ThattrendespeciallyhurtscompaniessuchasHyundaiAutoCanadaCorp.thatdependalmostentirely oncarsales.DonRomano,thecompany’sCEOandpresident,certainlyhashisworkcut outforhimtoreverseHyundai’srecentslide,butthelong-timeindustryexecwhohasmade previousstopsatNissan,Mazda(wherehewaschiefmarketingofficerduringtheZoom Zoomcampaign),ToyotaandmostrecentlyinchargeofHyundaiMiddleEast,saysthe companyhasimplementedanewstrategytogetbackintogear.
It’s important not to overreact. Fuel economyisgoodnotjustforthepocketbook, it’sgoodfortheenvironment—itjustmakes sense. We’re still going to make small cars, we’re still going to make fuel-efficient cars, we’re still going to continue to improve on thefuelefficiency.We’regoingtointroduce this year a new brand called Ionic, which would be similar to Toyota’s Prius brand; we’re going to have electric vehicles, plugin vehicles, hybrids under the Ionic brand. We’rethefirstcompanythatbeganretailing fuel-cellvehicles,andeventhoughwedon’t haveinfrastructureandhaven’treceivedalot ofsupportfromthegovernmenttohelpestablishthatinfrastructure,we’restillmoving forward.Justbecausepeoplearebuyingbig trucksandbigSUVsdoesn’tmeanyoushift away from your core beliefs and what you thinkisgoingtobeviablelongtermandwe believe fuel efficiency is one of those things thatwillbeviableinthelongterm.