Hyundai Builds Middle East Momentum On Premium Models
New 2014 Hyundai Centennial at home in the Middle East.
Hyundai Motor gets a lot of attention for our success in global markets. In China, our largest market, we have three factories. In the U.S., our second-largest market, the only thing holding us back is tight capacity. In Europe, we’re defying gravity by maintaining market share in the face of a tough business climate.
Today, though, I want to turn your attention to another Hyundai success story – Hyundai’s growing brand clout in the Middle East.
Hyundai’s Middle East region is a geographically broad one, stretching from the Levant nations in the west, through the Gulf nations, all the way east to Afghanistan.
It is culturally diverse: Some of our customers are Arab, but not all. Some live in petro-states, others do not. Some states are wealthy, while others are developing.
Throughout the region, however, Hyundai has grown in recent years, both in sales numbers and brand perception.
With more than 165,000 units sold through the first half of this year, Hyundai sales in the Middle East region are on a pace to hit 300,000 for the second year in a row. Sales of our most popular car in the region, Elantra, are up 35 percent.
Customers and media in the Middle East get what we’re trying to do. Nowhere is this more evident than in the sales figures and awards racked up by our premium cars in the Middle East.
Late last year, our flagship Hyundai Centennial (Equus in other markets) was named 2012 Car of the Year by Sport Auto magazine, one of the Middle East’s leading auto publications.
In May of this year, the new 2014 Centennialsnagged the award for Best Full-Sized Luxury Car from Automobile magazine, another of the region’s top auto periodicals.
Remember, this is a market that had been the near-exclusive domain of the German luxury badges.
Two prominent and elegant Middle East landmarks:
The Hyundai Centennial with Dubai's Burj Khalifa,
the world's tallest building, rising in the background.
Hyundai is rolling out premium lounges in its dealer showrooms across the Middle East, to better showcase Centennial and Genesis. These “showrooms within a showroom” feature sales personnel dedicated to Hyundai’s premium models and ensure premium customer treatment even before visitors sit in one of our range-topping cars.
In addition to the nice touches in the showroom, Hyundai is packaging a Premium Assurance Program with its premium models, which includes guaranteed buy-back value.
Hyundai premium lounge in a Middle East showroom.
Customers in the Middle East are responding. Sales of Genesis and Centennial are up 12.7 percent in the first half of this year.
“There is no doubt that the combination of a comprehensive, highly desirable product line-up and a strong, customer-focused dealer network has been key to our success in the Middle East,” Tom Lee, head of Hyundai’s Middle East region, told the Hyundai Motor Blog. “All of which has been built on the foundation of a solid, trusting relationship between Hyundai and its business partners, helped by fluent communication and information sharing between the two.”
In the second half of 2013, Lee said, our customers in the Middle East can look forward to new and enhanced Hyundai models. In addition, expect groundbreaking marketing activities, including online films aimed at premium customers and a new digital platform for our Sonata Hybrid, which was introduced in the region in Jordan, in April.
“We will continuously move forward to achieve our goal of becoming the most beloved car brand in the Middle East,” Lee said.
As head of Hyundai Global P.R., I have traveled to the Middle East and spoken to many of the media there. They are true petrol-heads -- some of the toughest, smartest motoring journalists in the world. Every day, they test the industry’s best cars. Their words of praise for the Hyundai badge carry a lot of weight.
Unlike other automakers, Hyundai has purposely not segregated its premium cars into a separate brand. Our goal is to lift the entire Hyundai brand, and we believe shearing off our premium cars into a separate marque would defeat that purpose. Every customer, regardless of their price point, deserves a premium car.
That message has resonated throughout the Middle East. We have high hopes in the region, and believe it will be a key driver of our global premium-car business in coming years.
Finally, about the cars themselves: Customers in the Middle East have embraced Genesis and Centennial, and we thank you for that. But just wait to see what we have in store for you. It’s a whole new game.
Hyundai HCD-14 concept, shown at the 2013 Detroit motor show,
a taste of Hyundai premium models to come.
The Hyundai Motor Blog
Name : Frank Ahrens
Profile : Vice President, Hyundai Motor Global Corporate Communications