Auto blogSun, 16 Nov 2014 17:02:00 EST
For the past four and a half years, Hyundai's marketing efforts in America have been steered by Steve Shannon. But now the Korean automaker is going to have to find a new marketing guru, because Shannon has reportedly stepped down with apparently immediate effect.
A career automobile marketer, Shannon came to Hyundai early in 2011 after over a quarter century at General Motors, effectively switching places with Joel Ewanick and Chris Perry, who moved from Hyundai to GM the previous year.
During his 25 years in Detroit, Automotive News points out, Shannon worked with such brands as Buick, Oldsmobile, Saab and Hummer. He was particularly instrumental in launching the Saturn brand and served as executive director of marketing for Cadillac prior to moving to Hyundai.
Hyundai's controversial decision last September to move its Korean headquarters to an expansive (and expensive) new facility was met with a swift backlash by shareholders. After making the biggest land purchase in South Korean history, the company's share price took a nine-point nose dive.
Now, in a bid to get back in the good graces of its stockholders, Hyundai and its subsidiary, Kia, will make a $615-million stock buyback plan. Reuters claims this is the first time in ten years that Hyundai has made a buyback offer with the explicit purpose of pumping up share prices.
The total deal bumped up Hyundai's share prices 5.7 percent while Kia is up two percent, although neither company has fully recovered from the battering that followed the headquarters announcement. It's unclear what else it will take for Hyundai to recover the ground it lost during the land deal.
Hyundai has taken the unusual approach of debuting a newly refreshed model - the refreshed 2015 Hyundai Azera - at the Miami International Auto Show instead of one of the larger usual suspects (the LA Auto Show is just around the corner). According to Hyundai, Florida is a large market for the Azera sedan, which surely had something to do with the decision to debut in Miami.
There aren't many big changes to the Azera for 2015, but what has been updated is meaningful, starting with redesigned front and rear fascias, standard 18-inch alloy wheels and LED fog lights on Limited models. Inside, an eight-inch display - all the better to work with Hyundai's latest Blue Link system - joins a new center stack design as notable improvements. On the safety front, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic alert and Lane Change Assist are now standard.
Power still comes from the well-regarded 3.3-liter V6 with 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. While none of the changes for 2015 are likely to make the Azera into a best seller in the highly competitive large-car market, where models like the Chevy Impala, Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse live, not to mention Hyundai's sibling from Kia, the Cadenza, we're sure Azera buyers will be happy with the updates all the same.
Hyundai has a thirst for horsepower. How else could we explain the scene you see above, in which there exists a 708-horsepower front-wheel-drive Sonata tuned by Bisimoto (black and white, above left) powered by Hyundai's 2.4-liter Theta II engine? Or the little red number you see hiding in the background, which, at an even 1,000 horsepower, is "the most-powerful 2.0-liter Genesis Coupe ever built," says Hyundai?
In addition to those two powerhouses, the white Sonata (above right) was styled by John Pangilinan to "[connect] Los Angeles street art culture with automotive enthusiasts," whatever that means, and it joins an ARK Performance-tuned Genesis Sedan meant to go head-to-head with Mercedes AMG and BMW M and another Genesis Sedan tuned by Toca Marketing Group with a twin-turbo'd 5.0-liter Tau V8.
All in, that's five heavily modified vehicles being shown at the 2014 SEMA Show by Hyundai (not to mention any more customs not actually sponsored by the automaker itself), and each of them is pretty successful as far as we're concerned. Check them all out for yourself in the image gallery above, and read all the details in the press release below, where you'll also find a video of the builders discussing each of their creations.
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:29:00 EST
This amount includes $100-million in civil penalties, the largest such fines in EPA history.
Hyundai and Kia are getting more than a slap on the wrist for overstating the fuel economy of an estimated 1.2-million vehicles in their 2011-2013 model ranges. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board are hitting the automakers with collective penalties valued at around $300 million for Clean Air Act violations. This amount includes $100-million in civil penalties, the largest such fines in EPA history. Specifically, Hyundai is paying a $56.8 million penalty and relinquishing 2.7-million greenhouse gas emissions credits. Kia is paying $43.2 million in penalties and giving up 2.05-million credits.
The Toyota Prius is the undisputed king of the hybrid market, but Hyundai and Kia are hoping to challenge its reign in the coming years with their own dedicated model. However, in all likelihood this is the same technology being shared between them. "We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars," Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho said to Reuters, during the launch of another vehicle in South Korea.
While Kim didn't say when the model would be ready, Autocar in Europe spoke to people at Kia, who said that the company's own hybrid was two years away and codenamed the DE. The initial vehicle is reportedly a five-door hatchback that's about 169-inches long, with more conventional styling than the Prius. Its powertrain is reportedly based around a 1.6-liter engine with electric assist. A plug-in version might follow later, and other bodystyles on the platform are possible. A recently spotted test mule might show the current state of development on the project (pictured above).
According to Reuters, the decision for the new vehicle comes in order to meet tighter emissions in some markets. However, it seems like a challenging move for the US market. Hyundai already sells its Tucson fuel cell in limited quantities and the Sonata hybrid, and Kia has the Optima hybrid and Soul EV. Industry analysts are also predicting that hybrids might have a hard time versus internal combustion engines in the coming years. In addition, Toyota is rumored to get fuel economy close to 60 miles per gallon for some versions of the next Prius. All of these factors make selling the models here a potentially difficult undertaking.
If you've been following the news from the Sao Paulo Motor Show, you'll likely have seen not only a series of new concept cars, but also a whole mess of production vehicles you never knew existed because they were developed specifically for the Latin American market. One of them is the Hyundai HB20.
Hyundai Brasil makes the HB20 in Sao Paulo for local consumption in three forms: there's the HB20 hatchback, HB20S sedan and HB20X crossover. It's the former which it has transformed into the R-Spec concept you see here.
Decked out in matte blue, the HB20 R-Spec concept packs an aggressively upgraded aero kit, extra cooling ducts, 17-inch alloys, LED headlights and an interior with leather trim and striped seats. Even if we don't know what's under the hood, it all looks pretty convincing, and makes us wish Hyundai would offer it Stateside as part of the Accent family with which it shares its underpinnings.
There aren't many nameplates that have sold over 10 million units in the history of the automotive industry. In fact there have only been ten, and now Hyundai has joined the list for the first time with the Elantra.
Launched 24 years ago, the Elantra has far and away been Hyundai's top selling model. Now in its fifth generation, the Elantra is sold as a coupe, sedan and wagon, and under the Avante name in its home market. It's one of the top selling cars in the world, and Hyundai has earned the right to crow that it has sold its 10,000,000 of them globally. That means that, on average, Hyundai has sold more than 45 new Elantras every hour of every day of every year since its introduction in 1990.
Other models in the 10 Million Club include the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, VW Beetle and Golf, and the Ford Model T and F-Series. The latter might still be considered the most impressive, selling over 34 million units - the vast majority in the US - to be America's top-selling vehicle for over 30 years running.
No matter how you look at it, the Hyundai Veloster is an odd duck. With the vehicle's weird door configuration and styling that kind of looks like a modernized Honda CRX, the model is certainly unlike anything else on the road today. Since spotting one testing earlier this year (pictured above), we know that a refreshed version is on the way eventually, but that car keeps a lot of its secrets hidden under camouflage. New rumors from The Korean Car Blog suggest that the Veloster might receive a few mechanical changes to go along with the updated skin.
Among the biggest rumored tweaks is that the turbocharged model is receiving a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox as a replacement for its current, conventional six-speed auto. Another potential change for the naturally aspirated version is Hyundai's Flex Steer system that offers selectable weighting for the electric power steering.
Styling obviously isn't being left alone for the update. The mule testing earlier this year appears to show a new grille and altered bumpers underneath its concealment. The latest rumors suggest that's exactly the case with the possibility of a front end closer in design to the current Genesis, along with HID headlights and a modified hood design to remove the faux heat extractors.
"But so far, Sonata sales are up compared with last year even while we're still ramping up to full speed," - Jim Trainor
According to Reuters, the redesigned-for-2015 Hyundai Sonata is not enjoying the same degree of success in the early going as the previous sixth-gen model, which proved to be one of the most important models in the company's history and ushered in the company's so-called "Fluidic Sculpture" design language that we still see today. Citing a recent review from The New York Times that called the car's more conservative styling "bland" and "boring," Reuters also points to analysts who claim the higher price of the new Sonata, as well as smaller rebates and incentives, are hurting sales. Honda and Toyota both offered anywhere from $600 to $800 more on the hoods of their Accord and Camry sedans last month.