Quite impressive what Hyundai in the past 25 years since the Korean brand has sold cars to us. It all started in 1991 with the Pony compact car, the design of which, like the Golf I, was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. At first it was mildly ridiculed and not taken seriously. In the first full year of sales in 1992, Hyundai was able to win 21.258 buyers.
Today Hyundai is a global player with an almost complete range of models, a five-year guarantee and a recognized good design, which has become number one reason for purchase since 2013. Ex-Audi Volkswagen man Peter Schreyer is primarily responsible for this, which of course also affects sales. In 2015, the Koreans sold more than 480 new cars to us through their 100.000 dealers. The market share is 3,4 percent. After Skoda and Renault, Hyundai is the number three import brand (and no longer Toyota) and even occupies pole position as an employer among car importers.
However, it is likely to be difficult to prove this with the environmental image. Eco, green, hybrid and Hyundai do not fall into one sentence in surveys. Toyota remains unmatched here. However, the Koreans are making every effort to become the second largest provider of vehicles with alternative drives in the medium term. At least that's how it is heard from the corporate headquarters in Seoul.
The new image will initially be built with the Ioniq mid-range model, which from the start will no longer be available with a conventional combustion engine alone. This year the Ioniq starts as an electric car, competing with the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3. Shortly afterwards, the Ioniq followed with a hybrid drive based on the Toyota Prius model. In 2017 there will even be a plug-in version, in 2019 even a new fuel cell car with its own body, which will replace the current ix35 Fuel Cell. "The Ioniq represents the future of the brand," says Hyundai Germany Managing Director Markus Schrick. Since the alternative drive technology follows a modular system, it is easy to imagine that there is more on the plan for cost reasons alone. Schrick: "Electric and hybrid drives are not reserved for the Ioniq, but are being extended to other models."
For example, the Tuscon (sales share currently 21 percent) and maybe even the compact SUV underneath, which is on the agenda for Hyundai for next year. Because in the Opel Mokka segment, sales forecasts continue to rise steeply. It is clear that the small SUV will not be called ix25, but will get a real name. It is quite possible that Hyundai will pick a location from the American west for this purpose. It is also quite possible that the successor to the station wagon i40 will fall victim to the SUV upgrade. The only thing that would remain in the program would be the sedan, which was given another facelift in 2017, will be replaced in 2019 and will then be marketed under the name Sonata, as is already the case in the USA.
The i10, the Grand Santa Fe and the sports sedan Genesis will receive their facelift this year. The latter can then also be obtained with a diesel. With the newly founded premium brand Genesis - the new top model G90 had its debut in Detroit in January - Hyundai is still reluctant in Europe compared to the USA. While there are plans to offer six models in America, customers in the Old World will initially have to play as an importer themselves to enjoy the Korean S-Class G90. Only in 2018, when the G70 study recently presented in New York rolls out to the US retailers as a production version, will it be decided how the position of its premium subsidiary will be in Europe. Lexus and Infiniti are the best example of how delicate it is. Neither brand has left their niches for years.
In autumn in Paris, Hyundai will present the next i30, which will be launched in early 2017. The entry-level engine then also forms the newly developed 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine, as was recently presented in the i20 and made a great impression there. It replaces the 1,2-liter four-cylinder, has 28 percent more torque and consumes 22 percent less. The engine was developed at Hyundai Europe in Rüsselsheim.
The i2017 station wagon will follow at the end of 30. A three-door is said to no longer exist, but instead a sporty-looking hatchback variant. Speaking of sports: Since Albert Biermann switched from BMW M GmbH to Hyundai, performance has also been moving in Korea. In 2018, the first Power Hyundai are to be launched in Europe under the N sub-brand. The N crowns the strongest model in the respective series. It could well be that soon afterwards your own N sports car will amaze the industry. Because around the same time, retirement for design chief Peter Schreyer is coming up. His wish, as he once said, is to say goodbye to his professional life with the design of a classy sports car. (Michael Specht / SP-X)