Hyundai Motor Europe has ambitious growth goals in Europe. The Korean automaker wants to boost its European new-car sales to 500,000 by 2013, up nearly 40 percent from 358,284 in 2010, Hyundai Europe Chief Operating Officer Allan Rushforth told Automotive News Europe in an interview.
Rushforth added: "We plan to achieve a 3 percent market share this year up from 2.6 percent last year, 2.4 percent in 2009 and 1.8 percent in 2008. For the overall market, we expect European sales to decline about 2.7 percent to 13.4 million units. That means selling just above 400,000 units. Our medium-term forecast it to sell half a million cars by 2013 and, beyond that, to achieve a 5 percent market share within 5 years – by 2015."
The COO went on to say: "The ultimate goal is to be one of the top five automakers in Europe."
He declined to reveal when Hyundai wants to join the top five. Hyundai brand was No. 14 last year in European new-car sales. When for more details on the goal Rushforth said: "It is our long-term objective. We clearly cannot be in the top five automakers overnight in a mature and tough market like Europe."
Rushforth shared the reasons for his confidence: "Our current growth comes from two key factors: organic growth with new products and entering new segments. But additional factors for us to expand further are brand awareness, brand image and ultimately leveraging our brand margins."
He added: "Our brand awareness is about 20 percent in Europe, roughly half of that of Toyota. This is one of the key factors for continued growth. With a 3 percent or a 4 percent improvement in our awareness, just think what kind of growth rate we could achieve!"
Hyundai has big plans boost its lineup. "We are in the middle of a product offensive that will see 11 new products and derivatives from December 2010 until the end of next year," Rushforth said. "We are extremely pleased with recently launched models such as the ix35 medium SUV. We received 100,000 orders for a vehicle for which we planned 30,000 units. Our crucial launch this year is the i40 mid-sized family. We debuted the station wagon in March at the Geneva show and sales begin in July. The sedan will go on sale by year end. In 2012, we plan 60,000 sales of the i40 family."
Rushforth does not see value brands such as Skoda and Chevrolet as Hyundai's main rivals. "Opel, for example, is a big conquest target for us at the moment. Typically, for an Asian brand coming to Europe, Toyota remains a benchmark."
Rushforth believes that Hyundai is winning new customers in Europe because of the company's focus on the market. "Of the 358,824 units we sold last year, 50 percent were from Europe, 20 percent from Korea and the remaining 30 percent from Turkey and India," Rushforth said. "In detail, the i10 minicar comes from India, i20 subcompact from India and Turkey. The i30 compact family comes from Nosovice, where this summer we will add the ix35. The i40, Santa Fe, ix55, Genesis and Equus come from South Korea. Our European production, has 60 percent European content."
The COO said the carmaker's plant in Nosovice, Czech Republic, will continue to contribute to the company's grow plans. "Last year Nosovice had a 90 percent utilization rate. We do not have any expansion plan that goes beyond adding a third shift to Nosovice, which will permit us to expand production from 200,000 units to roughly 300,000 by year end and create another 1,000 jobs."
While Rushforth would not speculate on the longer-term future of the factory, Werner Frey, Hyundai brand's Germany boss, anticipates that the factory will grow. "If demand continues to increase sustainably, I could imagine that we could further expand our capacity even before 2015," Frey said. "We have enough room. A second factory can be built quickly."