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Korean automaker Hyundai makes 2nd effort to penetrate Japanese market

20 Comments

In the market for a new car? How about a Korean Hyundai?

Weekly Playboy (March 28) ran a road test of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle, one of two models the Korean automaker will be launching in Japan. The other is the Nexo, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered crossover SUV initially introduced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show on January 8, 2018.

Veteran motoring journalist Toshimi Takehana pointed out that sales of the company's EVs and FCEVs will be conducted online exclusively, with the company initially contracted to supply around 900 units to Anyca, a car sharing firm. So at least a certain volume of sales are assured.

By May 28, a Hyundai pop-up space is planned to open in Tokyo's trendy Harajuku district, and by this summer, the company is planning to set up a Hyundai Customer Experience Center in Yokohama.

After taking a 4WD version of the Ioniq 5 for a spin, Takehana gives it a glowing review, praising its rapid acceleration and engine braking performance, which enables true "one pedal driving," as he puts it. He also gives it high marks for its sophisticated Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), by which multiple data inputs from a variety of cameras, radar and other sensors detect and warn drivers of unsafe situations.

The article notes that on Feb 28, the Kia EV6, which is built on the same platform as Hyundai's Ioniq 5, was named European Car of the Year, the first time for a Korean-made vehicle to receive such honors. 

The model incorporates a 72.6kWh lithium ion battery, giving it a cruising range of 577 kilometers on a full charge. Takehana said his test model would be priced at 5.89 million yen, but rear-wheel drive models would be available for about 1 million yen less.

This time, Takehana believes the Korean firm is fully committed to selling its cars in Japan.

”If they withdraw from the market because they don't sell well here, which is what happened 12 years ago, they will completely lose the market's trust and never be able to return to the Japanese market. After all, nobody's going to buy a car with the uncertainty over maintenance and after-care," he said.

Nikkan Gendai (Feb 17) noted that over the past eight years, Hyundai had sold only 15,095 units in Japan. Combined with South Korea's other nameplate Kia, the two manufacturers sold 6.68 million units worldwide, of which Japan accounted for less than 1%.

But what about Japanese car exports to South Korea? Last October, Bunshun Online reported that Japanese cars, whose sales at one time also plummeted, appear to be making a solid recovery. According to an October 7 announcement by the Korea Import Automobile Association, Honda sold more than 500 vehicles last August and another 513 in September. Its cumulative sales from January to September 2021 totaled 3,045 units, up by 47.3% from the same period of 2020. Other Japanese car brands also achieved growth. Lexus sold 7,472 units cumulatively from January to September, up 29.9% over 2020. Toyota sold 4,811 units in January-September, a 12.7% increase. Toyota maintained sales of more than 400 units each month in 2021, and more than 600 cars per month in May-July. 

Bunshun's writer noted that Japanese car owners in South Korea no longer worry about having their vehicle vandalized while parked in entertainment areas, or being intentionally blocked from changing lanes by aggressive drivers.

From the perspective of auto sales at least, Japan-Korea relations may be on the road to improvement.

© Japan Today

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20 Comments
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Is this really true? I remember when Hyundai were first introduced to the US in 1987, it was said that Hyundai 'were the world's most dominant automaker'. I was 21 then. Look at the cars and trucks converted into war machines and car bombs when guerilla wars, anarchy wars and civil wars break out - they are Chevrolets, Fords, Toyotas, Nissans, even Mercedes (Libyan 2011 Civil War).

And with SK being so close to Japan, it's surprising that Hyundai hasn't been more successful there.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I fear the Japanese penchant for believing their products are better than anything else except iPhones will sink them.

Case in point......Samsung's name is nowhere to be seen on any of its Galaxy models in Japan.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Did a test drive last weekend on the IONOQ5

Fantastic car. Gonna be getting one next year

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

ok and now its time to go back to reality.

Hyundai did catastrophic low sales in Japan as their line up was nothing exciting and not in pair with cars offered by other market players.even heavy subsiziding from ROK did not help and yes they have closed business in Japan for good.as same as Saturn did before than or even Opel.and yes there were heavy subsizided by GM...

now is 2022.we are still in Japan and yes japanese mentality abt cars is almost unchanged as major sales are domestic barnds than some part of market is taken by european brands and very thin part US brands.

japanese people have choice to buy EV like Tesla Nissan etc but yes-sales are very low and yes even Tesla-successful brand in USA-is very rare sight on japanese roads.

let me be pessimistic.Hyundai sales will be ultra low again.even EV.Japan is not market for EV vehicles yet thanks to pricing,thanks to recent infrastucture and tahnks to keeping and maintenence cost when petrol,diesel or even hybrid cars are much better option and value for money.

and yes let me not forget one more important thing-japanese nationalism and kind of "pride" while they will not buy korean ,russian or even chinese cars/even many european makers successfully selling chinese made cars like Citroen VW or Volvo here for a few years already but yes-japanese buyers have no idea abt that all/.

Hyundai may make sales in Europe maybe India but Japan...no way guys...

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Good cars.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I bought one used years ago because it was cheap and can say, they are garbage compared to Japanese cars. No wonder they haven’t taken off here.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Depends on the quality of their cars.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

The ones I've driven in Europe are as good as any marque.Great warranties,too.

What's the import tax levy on them here? That's the question.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Probably end up ‘same old same old’ in Japan with identifiably Korean cars.

In Australia Korean cars at a par with Japanese give or take, but cars from a bevy of Chinese makers - some pretty good - make it complicated.

One overlooked point is the huge surge in electronic vehicles from China, many kei-sized. Realising the existence of those would send lots of rats up the trouser-legs of Japanese and Korean car marketing people.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Several decades ago, to improve reliability Korea's export models had about 20% Japanese content. So every time Hyundai et al sold a car, Japanese component makers turned a profit. Be as it may, last year my brother bought a Kia crossover model (gasoline powered) and he's very satisfied with it in terms of performance and comfort.

Re the query regarding import duties for automobiles, trade agreements have rendered these negligible between most countries that manufacture, although some non-tariff barriers may still exist on a case-by-case basis.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In this year's automotive issue of Consumer Reports magazine, Japan's Toyota RAV4 Prime and Korea's Kia Niro EV tied for best in class in the Electric Vehicle category.

In general, Hyundais are not as good as the best Japanese models, but they have an excellent warranty, and good price. On the other hand, there are plenty of Japanese models that are not as good as the best Korean models. Both Japanese and Korean cars are very popular here in the States.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

EastmanMar. 26  11:14 am JST

and yes let me not forget one more important thing-japanese nationalism and kind of "pride" while they will not buy korean ,russian or even chinese cars/even many european makers successfully selling chinese made cars like Citroen VW or Volvo here for a few years already but yes-japanese buyers have no idea abt that all/.

Japanese car buyers know perfectly well where their cars are made, are you suggesting that they don't?

Nibek32Mar. 26  05:14 pm JST

I bought one used years ago because it was cheap and can say, they are garbage compared to Japanese cars. No wonder they haven’t taken off here.

Last time they were here they didn't do very well mainly because they were Korean and also didn't have such a good product range as now. These days they are well-regarded in many markets and could easily do much better than they did before. The fact that you bought one years ago and say it was garbage compared to Japanese cars may be somewhat true it is totally irrelevant. When I was in Korea in the 1970s every car was a Hyundai Pony and they were way below the standard of Japanese cars at that time, nowadays things have changed.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

About 25 years ago I bought a Korean made fax-phone;

since then don’t want to by Korean again.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japanese car makers entered the US market in the 1960s at first ridiculed, hated, laughed at. Come the 1970s and the OPEC "oil shock" suddenly both US consumers and Auto companies started taking them seriously, and by the 1980s the quality of Japanese cars was firmly established. As an Asian country recovering from WWII Japan worked hard to overcome ridicule and racism. In the early 1980s Hyundai received help from Mitsubishi Motors to break into the auto manufacturing business. Previousl;y they had acted as the importer of a British maker. Entering the lucrative US market they avoided saying "Korean cars" in order to ride the appeal of Japanese cars which by then had become household names in Anmerican homes. Hyundai called their cars "Asian cars" instead. Even using Sumo wrestlers in it's ads to blur the difference.

https://www.autonews.com/article/20070917/SUB/709170336/new-hyundai-ads-try-to-shed-low-end-image

Korean car makers made inroads in the US and European markrts. However the buyers are often those who could not "afford" a Japanese one. Hence a focus now on more high end models.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For me, one key factor in determining whether or not to buy a Hyundai in Japan would be the quality of the dealership service.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good cars

That's subjective.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was hoping they'd have a Veloster N, but I just found out that all they're offering in Japan is a BEV and a Fuel Cell.

I'll pass.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Harry_GattoMar. 27 10:53 pm JST

EastmanMar. 26 11:14 am JST

and yes let me not forget one more important thing-japanese nationalism and kind of "pride" while they will not buy korean ,russian or even chinese cars/even many european makers successfully selling chinese made cars like Citroen VW or Volvo here for a few years already but yes-japanese buyers have no idea abt that all/.

Japanese car buyers know perfectly well where their cars are made, are you suggesting that they don't?

Yes I can guarantee that.There is some tool called VIN checker.Just go to some random VW or Volvo or Citroen dealership,talk to salesman,than open bonnet,take shot of VIN number of car in showroom and than run VIN check.Chugoku-sei will be many,namely VW Polo,Citroen C3,all Volvo cars...

Go back to your question.Ask that question that showroom salaryman first as sure he will have no idead that cars are made in China so yes you may not need to ask japanese buyers than as sure they will have no idea at all.

Japanese people believes that Mercedes Benz C class is made in Germany/even japanese models are produced on Zandvoort Afrika/,Citroen must be french/even produced by SAIC in China/ and yes Volvo must be swedish reliable premium drive/even produced by Geely in China/.Japanese importers like VW,Citroen or Volvo knows reality but they will never tell you that and you will never find single note about that in their pamphlets or brochures.Car salesman dont pass these info to own buyers as they wants to keep them that cars are not chinese ones.

Reason is simple.Japanese buyer will not pay premium prices for "german","french" or "swedish" cars if they will know cars were produced in China.So this "sales secret" protecting sales slump while keeping own clients uninformed.

Btw did you ever saw TV ad abt Galaxy?I mean that smart phone made by Samsung.You can guess why these ads never says something like "buy perfect smartphone from Samsung"?

Samsung is korean name and sure many will not buy just because its korean,so sales professionals have erased Samsung name and using Galaxy instead as its in english...same thing man.Hyundai will never make that nice success as they could do in Australia,NZ,USA or even Europe or India-Japan is kind of "different planet"

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Hyundai's secret sauce in Europe:

German comfort and ergonomics, Japanese reliability, and a 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Hard to argue with that value proposition.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are still people who mistakenly believe that Samsung phones don't sell in Japan because they are a Korean company.

Even young K-POP fans who have a good feeling for Korea are not buying Galaxy.

The most popular demographic for iPhones in Japan is the youth, and it is also the youth who have a high liking for Korea.

In Japan, the impression of Android itself is too bad, with an image of geekiness and poverty.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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