Hyundai sets its sights on UK top five

  • Hyundai set for a busy year for new products
  • Growth expected despite what looks to be a challenging year
  • Firm's UK boss outlines vision for future growth

If you were to ask someone on the street which is the bigger manufacturer - Ford or Hyundai - 99 percent of people would probably say Ford, despite that globally, the Korean manufacturer sells more cars. 

Just under five million made their way to new homes worldwide last year, 82,159 of which came to the UK - a record performance for the Korean firm.

Being one of the fastest growing brands over the past five years, Hyundai has big plans to become a top five manufacturer here in the UK, looking at 2014 figures that would mean beating the likes of Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

So how is the firm going to achieve this, I hear you ask? Hyundai UK President and CEO Tony Whitehorn has been speaking to Parkers about the firm's ambitious plans for the next few years.

New products will be key

This year looks set to be Hyundai’s busiest ever for new cars with the launch of four new models in the first four months.

The new i20 arrived in showrooms last month, plus the new i20 Coupe and i30 Turbo are due to arrive in March.

Key for company car drivers is the arrival of the revised i40 (above) in April which brings with it enhanced exterior styling, more efficient diesel engines, new technology and the addition of a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Hyundai’s new luxury Genesis saloon will also be available in the UK from April, which showcases the very best tech and prestige styling that the firm has to offer.

And that's not all - a new SUV (pictured below) is set to be unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show plus a fuel cell version of the Ix35 is expected to go on public sale at some point in the year.

“I think it’ll be a challenging market this year. By delivering four new models in the first four months with more to come, we need to ensure that our brand means more to more people and that we can tap into our customers' emotion,” said Whitehorn.

Premium not budget

Previously known as a budget brand, Hyundai has been changing perceptions over the past few years and wants to be seen as a more premium manufacturer, focusing on the quality of its customers and raising prices to reflect this.

“Hyundai is changing expectations. We are moving the brand from a rational purchase to an emotional one and the products, advertising and dealerships need to reflect that,” said Whitehorn.

In the short-term, Hyundai is targeting 100,000 annual registrations here in the UK, with a medium-term goal of five percent market share. In the long-term, the company aims to secure a top five sales position among all car brands in the UK.

“Hyundai has undergone something of a transformation in recent years - and we’ve tripled sales in the UK since 2008. But that’s not enough - we want Hyundai to grow into something more, and we do that by offering more cars that people want to buy,” Whitehorn concluded.