Hyundai: Better Than Toyota? *UPDATED

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata

One company’s crisis is another’s gold mine.

In the case of Hyundai, the gold mine keeps getting deeper.

First, the automaker saw sales increase in 2009 by 8 percent, when the rest of the industry was in crisis and sank about 20 percent. Hyundai’s market share went from 3 percent all the way up to 4.2 percent.

Hyundai, I think, owes a very large thank you to the U.S. economic crash. And now it has someone else to thank: Toyota.

According to an article over at Autosavant, Hyundai is cashing in on Toyota’s misfortune. Dave Zuchowski, U.S. sales chief of Hyundai, said in that article,

before the recalls, around 6% of Hyundai’s trade-ins were Toyotas. Since the recall, that number has jumped up to 11%. Toyota is the brand most Hyundai buyers shop against.

Executives over at Hyundai hope to keep that momentum going and have big plans for the future, starting with a goal of selling 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year. That would be up from 2009’s sales of 435,064 and would increase market share to 4.5 percent.

However you look at it, Hyundai is going gangbusters, and it looks like nothing short of a massive safety recall is going to stop it.

The new Sonata is one of the cars Hyundai expects to lead the way towards the magic 500,000 mark, and by all accounts, the car has what it takes. Leftlane goes a step further, saying,

After years of playing catch up, and then a brief period of being equal to its foes, the Sonata is now the one to beat for mainstream refinement in the family sedan class.

2010 Hyundai Tucson

The Sonata is sleek, attractive, economical, reliable, affordable, and fuel efficient. On top of that, it’s also now a trend-setter, by being the first in its class to offer only a four-cylinder engine. A twin-turbo four is on the way.

Between the Sonata, the ultra-cool new Tucson, and the sporty Genesis Coupe, Hyundai has a lineup that is quickly turning formidable. Plus, many younger buyers don’t even remember the days of questionable Hyundai quality. In their minds, Toyota is the carmaker with safety issues.

Some people could begin to perceive Hyundai as a less-risky brand compared to Toyota. Is it?

*UPDATE: On February 23, Hyundai issued a stop-sale on the 2011 Sonata and issued a recall on 5,000 Sonatas due to a potentially defective front door latch. The stop-sale will end as soon as dealers receive and install new latches on their inventory. Those latches should ship this week.


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Used Hyundai Sonata
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  1. It will be interesting to see how the media treats Toyota, in light of how they treated Audi a few years ago.

  2. Hmmm. Now Hyundai is in the same boat as other recall automakers. They are recalling Sonatas for sticking door latches. Oh, Lord please help all these guys soon so we can focus on automaker’s real strengths and not their weaknesses.

  3. I think Hyundai can sell more cars on its own and not feeding off of Toyota unlike other car makers.

  4. I am a huge fan of Hyundai and sister Kia. I don’t know if both are in Toyota’s class as yet, but I do like the direction they are going. This will happen only when the resale value of the twins continues to dramatically improve, which they are not. I have owned both and find them to be excellent vehicles, but the resale values are disconcerting. I just saw a 2010 Sonata being sold for only $12K in a local dealer. I don’t know anything about the car, but I am not shocked by that number. The Toyota “risk” is a short term phenomenon and the company will end up being stronger than before, once it comes clean with the public. That may take a while and Hyundai will certainly pounce on any weakness.

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