Hyundai South Africa: Building an automotive legacy

South Africa’s automotive sector continues to enjoy growth, with the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), reporting that in July, new vehicle sales continued to perform in line with industry expectations, following statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Hyundai

Amid this current environment, Hyundai South Africa successfully launched the new Hyundai Sonata 2.4 GDI Elite automatic.  The launch underlined the company’s commitment to Southern Africa – a commitment which stretches back over time.

Hyundai Motor Company was formed in 1967 and evolved into Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group – officially ranked the world’s fifth largest automotive manufacturer since 2007. The company produced Korea’s first locally designed vehicle back in 1976 and today is responsible for almost 4 million cars a year, with manufacturing plants scattered across Korea, India, USA and the Czech Republic – and joint venture plants in China, Turkey, South East Asia, South America, Africa and Russia.

Globally the business is reported to employ in excess of 75,000 people and sells vehicles to 193 countries.

Hyundai Motor Company Korea has made a firm commitment to Southern Africa and in 2005, Hyundai Automotive South Africa was selected as the Global distributor of the Year.

The company’s association with South Africa can be traced back to April 2000, when Associated Motor Holdings, a division of Imperial Holdings, announced that they had signed a distribution agreement with Hyundai Motor Company in Korea to import and distribute of Hyundai vehicles and parts for Southern Africa.

Subsequently, Hyundai SA has gradually built up a network of over 80 dealerships in Southern Africa, including Namibia and Botswana – and a strong reputation for the highest customer standards. Many of those dealerships in the Hyundai network have a long and well respected history in the motor trade.

Of course taking on such a venture is no easy matter; Hyundai’s mission is “To grow our brand, on a reputation built on integrity; recognizable style, reliability and superior build quality” – building that brand took time.

Speaking in 2009, Hyundai Automotive South Africa’s Managing Director, Mr. Alan Ross stated: “When we took on this challenge, we knew what we had to accomplish, and we understood that it wasn’t going to be easy, but; “What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, the mind of a man can achieve.

“This has been our strategy from the beginning and we haven’t looked back for a moment.”

Of course the automotive market has been specifically targeted by the South African Government as a sector that can help to boost skills and create employment opportunities. The Government has worked closely with a number of major global automotive companies, encouraging enterprise in South Africa.

It is a mantle that Hyundai South Africa has been happy to take up. In July the company donated 2 cars to schools in Germiston and Durban, for the purpose of technical training and to help develop technical skills.

Hyundai South Africa reported that the 2 Eon models, which were used for a test programme in South Africa, were handed over to the Primrose High School in Germiston and the West Ridge High School in Durban during a media launch of the new Hyundai Sonata 2.4 GDI.

The donation reaffirmed the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme, with its aim to assist with technical training of learners at schools. It is an ongoing involvement with schools to assist with technical training and skills development by Hyundai in South Africa.

Commenting on the donation, Stanley Anderson, Marketing Director at Hyundai Automotive SA, said: “We view this as an important contribution to learning of skills for future careers at school level. Hyundai Automotive South Africa has assisted 25 schools to date countrywide in this manner. We are aware of the dire need of well-qualified technicians in the automotive industry of South Africa. It is not a self-serving gesture, but rather an attempt to assist schools in the technical training of learners who might follow a career where they need a solid technical skills base.”

Michael Rohde, after-sales director at Hyundai Automotive SA, explained that the 2 Hyundai Eons were part of a test programme in South Africa, but that this model was not destined to be launched here. “These are fully functioning, running vehicles. The big benefit for the schools is that these cars display the latest technology, which is important for learners to keep up with the latest developments in the automotive world.

These cars are also small, which makes it easy for learners to remove parts in a short period of time. The relative smaller size of the components make it easy to work on,” he added.

The new 2.4 litre Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine in the Hyundai Sonata 2.4 GDI Elite automatic not only raises the maximum power output substantially from 131 kW to 148 kW, but also forms a smooth and fuel-efficient drivetrain match with the automatic six-speed gearbox.

The enahanced vehicle includes a fresh new grille, front bumper, headlights and fog lights added on the front, new wheels and exterior side-mirrors and reworked rear lights. The Sonata is considered the flagship sedan of Hyundai Automotive SA’s passenger car range in South Africa.

The Sonata was already a very elegant, well-designed sedan that was the choice of many buyers who were looking for a modern premium motoring package at a very competitive price. The new engine and subtle changes to its exterior looks, coupled with the changes on the extensive list of specifications, has enhanced this excellent offer of Hyundai in South Africa even more. It is important to note that this new Sonata is not a facelift – the designers has merely added some very sensible ‘product enhancements’ on the exterior as well as the interior,” stated Anderson.

In August, Hyundai launched its face-lifted Elantra in the Korean market. The 2014 Elantra, badged as the Avante in Korea is 20mm longer overall than the previous model at 4550mm (on the same wheelbase), with front and rear bumpers extended by 5mm and 15mm, while a revised front bumper, grille and fog lights, along with new LED headlights and daytime running lights are intended to lend a high-tech look.

The company indicated that the revised Elantra will be launched in South Africa sometime in 2014, as Hyundai South Africa further enhances its growth and reputation.