'HYUNDAI IS not forced to sell cars in Europe at a discount and will not be led to do it by the low exchange rate of the won' says Lee Hyoung-keun, Hyundai Motors' director of marketing support in Seoul. He was interviewed by Georg Auer in Monte Carlo.
Other conglomerates will use the low rate of the won to intensify exports, why not Hyundai?
Hyundai Group is in a far better financial position than competing Chaebol. We saw three years ago our economy was developing in a wrong way. We applied the brakes and started a saving program.
Therefore we do not have to forcibly increase our overseas trade far above plan to make up for losses and we won't do it. In the long run those forcibly increased exports on the basis of a low won can have devastating effects on our economy.
Will you enter the luxury class?
We plan to present a sub-luxury car one rung above the Sonata at the end of this year. We will launch it on the US as well as the European market. We don't expect large numbers but a growth of image.
Will you also present a sporty model like a roadster?
You will see our first European design, our Euro One, a two-seater prototype at the Geneva auto show. If public reaction comes up to our expectations we shall produce the car. It has a completely new platform and the engine is an enhanced 2.0-liter Lantra engine.
How will Hyundai master the difficulties that afflict the whole of Southeast Asia?
The government and Korean enterprises believe it will be necessary to strengthen exports to compensate for the weakening of our market. As the exchange rate of the won at present favors our export trade, the income in won from exports is nearly twice as high as it was six months ago.
Our government says that our balance of foreign trade during the past three months has rounded the corner and is now in the black. It is expected we will have a positive trade balance by end of the year.
What future developments do you foresee for Korean enterprises?
The future lies in the flexibility of labor. Up to now sackings because of lack of work were not possible. Since Parliament has adopted the new labor laws this has changed. Each plant has the possibility to rid itself of superfluous labor. The economy can move better than during past years.