AM: Is Hyundai over reliant on sales of smaller, less profitable models?
TW: The i10 is our best-selling model, but after that it’s probably the ix35 and we’ll do close to 10,000 units this year. We don’t have bags of stock of the i20 and i30, mainly because of the imminent arrival of the facelifts.
The volume products like i10 and i20 can fill your service areas and the niche product like ix20, ix35, Sante Fe and Veloster is where you can make more profit.
AM: What’s the biggest issue facing the used car business in dealerships?
TW: Getting enough used cars is a big issue at the moment. We have 155 dealers and the source of Hyundai’s used cars is rental buy backs and management vehicles. It’s not a big source, so that’s a little bit of a problem.
A three-year-old i30 is a fantastic vehicle with two years’ manufacturer warranty left on it so there’s big demand for our i-generation models.
AM: Will Chinese manufacturers be able to make a success out of Europe in less time than the Korean brands?
TW: Korean manufacturers have gone into a vacant spot starting off with value for money product and seriously increasing the quality of the products in a short amount of time. We’re no longer a cheap brand, but we’re still a value proposition.
I think people had thought the Chinese would arrive in Europe a lot quicker. I think they themselves are surprised by how brand conscious and expensive it is to make it a success here.
Their entry has been much slower than expected. If you were starting car production now, you wouldn’t start in Europe. Europe is very brand conscious and UK is at the top of that.
AM: What are your views on how the market will be this year?
TW: The first few months of this year have been stronger for new car sales than people would have expected. I think we’ll probably see a 5% drop on last year, but there are certainly many manufacturers that are finding it very difficult, particularly the ones that don’t have new models or a strong new car line-up.