MADRID – Light trucks account for less than one-quarter of Hyundai’s U.S. sales. It’s a different story in Spain, where one of them, the Tucson compact CUV, is racking up impressive numbers.
Hyundai forecasts selling about 50,000 light vehicles in the Spanish market during 2016, a 13% improvement on the 2015 result. Adding sister brand Kia will push the Korean automaker’s total past 100,000 units, Leopoldo Satrustegui, general manager-Hyundai Spain tells journalists during the automaker’s annual meeting.
If Satrustegui’s forecast is correct, Hyundai’s share of the Spanish market will reach a record 4.4%, up from the previous record of 4.3% set in 2015.
Such an increase mainly will be built on the new Tucson, which arrived on the market in May 2015 and had become Hyundai’s best-selling vehicle in October, November and December.
Satrustegui is confident the Tucson’s sales momentum will carry over to other models recently introduced or due soon in Spain: the i20 Active, Elantra diesel, Genesis diesel and Ioniq.
Slated for launch in October, the Ioniq will be offered in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions.
But Satrustegui sees some dark clouds on the horizon. One is the uncertainty surrounding Spanish politics, with the leading political parties deadlocked in negotiations on the creation of a government. Most forecasts point to a new round of elections June 26, but even that vote could prove inconclusive.
“We do not have a government with which to speak, with which to negotiate, for example, the continuity of the PIVE (cash-for-clunkers) scheme to the renewal of the national fleet with more efficient and ecological vehicles when the financial funds of the current PIVE exhaust,” Satrustegui says.
Political uncertainty aside, Hyundai’s 80 Spanish dealers saw average profitability increase to 2.8% in 2015 from 2% in the prior year, Satrustegui says, adding he believes 2016 profitability will match last year’s levels.
The automaker will not expand its Spanish dealership network, the executive says. “Increasing too much the number of dealers has been a common mistake in Spain in the past, a mistake that is ultimately detrimental to the whole network.”
Hyundai Spain is taking a new direction in retailing called Click2Drive, which will debut in a Madrid-area mall in collaboration with Gamboa, one of its dealers.
“It is a similar system to the one used in Apple shops. No vendors, only commercial assistants that help the customers solve a possible problem when buying online their new Hyundai cars,” sources with the automaker say.
The Click2Drive system already is working in the U.K., where Hyundai last year sold about 1,000 vehicles through this sales channel. The target for Spain is 300 units annually.