As Car Sales Collapse, Hyundai Becomes the Most Successful Car Company in America

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Hyundai is now the most successful car company in the US and it has the numbers to prove it. It has come up with a way to sell cars to people who fear that they will be homeless and it works. Most large car companies posted more significant unit sales drops in February than analysts expected. GM (GM) only sold 268,737 light vehicles. Three years ago, that would have been its take for the July 4th “cash back” weekend. Ford (F) moved 96,044 units, off 48% from the same month last year. As usual, the Ford PR department did what it could to misdirect and dissemble. Early in its statement about last month’s sales, Ford pressed the case for how fabulous its new products are. The most important announcement the company thought it was making was that Ford will introduce the new Fusion model during “American Idol.” It tells Ford’s shareholders how out of touch the company’s CEO Alan Mulally is. He can be forgiven. He used to work for Boeing (BA). The only privately held member of The Big Three, Chrysler, did better than expected. Sales were down 44% to 84,050. Honda (HMC), Toyota (TM), and Nissan all had results down about 40%. Hyundai sold 30,621 vehicles in the US last month. That is more than half of Nissan’s sales which dropped to 54,249. And, Nissan has been a prominent brand in the American car business ever since it was known as Datsun. Most consumers don’t know that Hyundai sells cars. Most Americans don’t know that Hyundai exists at all and virtually no one knows where the company is based. The brand does not seem to show up in JD Power customer satisfaction or Consumer Reports rankings. Hyundai’s US car arm is a tiny piece of a Goliath of a company based in South Korea. The firm owns mines, petroleum assets, machinery manufacturing operations, and electronics factories. It also builds commercial tankers that are as long as several football fields. Hyundai Motors has simply out-marketed its competition in the US. It builds good cars, at least based on auto...
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