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Hyundai contract hire scheme on way

Hyundai is set to roll out a contract hire scheme to its dealer network in January, following a successful pilot in 14 sites. The move is part of the Korean firm’s long- term plans to be taken seriously as a player in the fleet market.

Sixteen dealers have already shown an interest in taking part in the scheme and although plans have not been finalised, Hyundai is confident the majority of its 172 strong dealer network will join.

The scheme is managed by Hyundai importer Lex, which oversees a similar programme for Honda, but will be branded as Hyundai to customers. Retailers will be trained in the skills and knowledge required to handle fleet business, while referrals will be prompted via a large-scale publicity campaign.

“This scheme takes us into a new market and, although we are initially targeting local SMEs, we would eventually like to be taken seriously in the fleet market,” says David Walker, managing director of Hyundai UK.

The manufacturer sees the Coupe and Santa Fe as key models, along with the recently introduced Tucson SUV and the forthcoming fifth generation Sonata.

The scheme is expected to add around 400 incremental sales as well as raising awareness of the brand and model line-up to potential fleet buyers and user-choosers.

“The scheme is not something we would have developed ourselves, so Lex backing is useful. It’s a matter of finding those dealers who want to take part and will be successful with it,” says Walker Hyundai’s plans will have also been further boosted by the recent Warranty Direct annual reliability index, in which it moved up from sixth to third, behind Mazda and Honda. The index, which looks at 30,000 vehicles from 27 manufacturers, combines the number of faults a car suffers alongside the actual cost of repairing them.

The manufacturer has also had a positive response from dealers about the new Tucson and it is hoping its strong 4x4 line-up, including the Terracan, will help boost sales in 2005.

“We are definitely exploiting the 4x4 market. This year we should reach 36,000 units and next year out target is 40,000 units, with the 4x4 models accounting for 20% of this,” adds Walker.

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