SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Korea Bizwire) – Sales of Hyundai Motor’s Aslan premium sedan have been underwhelming, and far below company expectations. Hyundai set ambitious sales targets, aiming to offer a domestic alternative to increasingly popular imported cars, but the lack of any “new car” effect on sales has puzzled officials.
According to Hyundai, the fifth largest automaker in the world, only 1,320 Aslans were sold in November. An additional 2,500 vehicles have been reserved, but not yet delivered. Given that the internal sales target for 2014 was 6,000 units, Hyundai is likely to come up short, as it is unlikely to sell more than 2,000 cars in December.
When new cars are introduced, sales usually skyrocket as customers are enticed by upgraded performance and design. For example, when Hyundai rolled out the new LF Sonata last April, it sold 15,392 units in the month, a 16.5 percent increase over the same period the previous year.
However, Aslan did not see a similar sales bump. On the contrary, sales of Hyundai’s large sedans, including Grandeur, Genesis and Equus are decreasing year-over-year. In November of last year, it sold 14,623 large sedans in Korea. But this year, in spite of the Aslan launch, sales fell to 11,770 units, a 19.5 percent decrease.
The Aslan, which means lion in Turkish, aimed to straddle Hyundai’s flagship premium sedans, Grandeur and Genesis, while targeting the same potential consumers in their 40s and 50s. However, as large sedan sales have decreased, the strategy to create a niche market between the two has not been successful.
In addition, Hyundai aimed to snatch away rising demand for German sedans, which account for a whopping 80 percent of Korea’s imported car market. Far from declining, demand for German cars continues to increase, adding to Hyundai’s woes.
Meanwhile, Hyundai is slashing prices to promote sales in and out of Korea. As Japanese automakers, powered by the weakened yen, are dumping their cars at lower prices, Hyundai is desperately defending its market share, while still aiming to break the 8 million unit sales record.
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)