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