One foreign automaker that’s worked long and hard to overcome an initial poor showing now has a new initiative aimed to woo people to its brand.
I remember long ago when Hyundai came to the United States in the mid 1980s with a car called the Excel, after it had been a hit in Canada. In reality, the Excel had terrible reliability and was no fun to drive. The only thing it had to offer was a price of $5,000 fully equipped — though it was not even worth that much!
Hyundai spent years trying to recover their reputation after that initial blunder. They did not give up on America even though we had given up on them. One of the biggest challenges was public perception of their brand. They were simply not making it into people’s “funnel,” which is the shortlist of brands folks will consider when they go car shopping.
The Korean automaker finally began to make it into the funnel when they started offering 10-year warranties on their cars. At the time, auto writers panned Hyundai and the warranty offer, saying they’d go bust fulfilling all of their warranty obligations. Well, Hyundai is still doing it today! And now it’s even gotten to the point where Consumer Reports now raves about Hyundai and its sister company Kia.
Hyundai’s latest hurdle to overcome has been its lousy resale values. To deal with this, Hyundai is now offering a trade-in guarantee. Say you buy a Hyundai and keep it for a number of years. If you decide to trade it in to get another Hyundai and you find the resale value is rotten, no worries. The company will guarantee a future minimum trade-in value on your vehicle when you purchase it today.
In essence, they’re putting their money where mouth is and creating buyer assurance in the process. I don’t own a Hyundai, but I recently had a Sonata as a rental car and loved it. (You also have the Elantra that gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway. That seems like another smart choice.)
I love the underdog story of Hyundai. Their continuing efforts create an extra level of competition in the car market and that forces everybody to get better.