SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Korea Bizwire) – Hyundai Motor’s answer to Toyota Motor’s strategic choice of its Prius as a taxi version in South Korea’s competitive taxi model market seems to work.
The sales of the “LF Sonata,” Hyundai Motor’s newest mid-size sedan, have rebounded from last month after its decision to launch the model (Lpi) for taxi operators.
According to company sources on October 8, the total sales number for the model last month was 8,287 of which 2,508 (30.3%) were LF Sonata taxis. The monthly sales figures for the model were 10,793 in June, 10,035 in July, and 7,307 in August.
The main reason for its sales number to shoot up back to the 8,000 level in September was the LF Sonata taxi.
Earlier in June, Hyundai Motor had said publicly that it would not make available the LF Sonata as taxis as it may compromise its luxury image. But the new car’s popularity fizzled out too early and the company had to take back its statement made earlier.
Of the 2,508 buyers of the LF Sonata last month, 95.8 percent were individual taxi owners while the remaining 4.2 percent were accounted for by taxi companies. This is unusual given that the ratio of individual taxi owners for the YF Sonata was 65.7 percent.
A Hyundai Motor official said that the sales surge of the LF Sonata has to do with the fact that the new model is superior in safety and convenience to the current-generation YF Sonata.
Even though the latest model is slightly more expensive than the existing one, he added, individual taxi operators are competing to get one because of these strengths.
In the mean time, Toyota Motor, which introduced a taxi version of its hybrid gasoline-electric car, the Prius, in South Korea in late August, said it will deliver the model in earnest after securing reasonable number of pre-orders and it has seen unexpectedly favorable responses from the market so far.
Toyota plans to roll out its Prius as a taxi model in its aim to widen the customer base and Toyota’s move is notable since it would be the first foreign car brand to enter the Korean taxi market, according to Wall Street Journal’s report.
By M.H. Lee (email@example.com)