Park calls for expanding ties with U.S. in energy, healthcare

Hyundai chief urges new game plan in Europe

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Published : 2014-03-05 19:59
Updated : 2014-03-05 19:59

Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo stressed during his site inspection tour in Europe on Tuesday that the company will need to reinforce its game plan if they want to gain the upper hand in the European auto market, which is expected to undergo heavy competition this year.

Chung’s visit to Europe ― his first overseas trip of the year ― is part of the conglomerate’s strategy to solidify their operations at one of the world’s largest automotive markets amid signs of market recovery after six years of slowed sales due to the prolonged global financial crisis, the carmaker said.
Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo and staff members conduct a quality inspection at the automaker’s manufacturing plant in Slovakia on Tuesday. (Hyundai Motor)

“Although the local staff has done an excellent job recording double-digit sales growth during such tough economic conditions, some rearrangements are necessary now that we can expect an increase in market demand and fiercer competition,” said the chairman.

The Western European market is expected to grow by 1.2 percent to over 13.05 million units, while the smaller Eastern European market will grow by 6.3 percent to roughly 5.46 million units. When combined, it will be comparable to the size of the entire North American market, according to analysts.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Chung visited the production facilities of Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors ― in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, respectively ― primarily to oversee their quality control.

The Korean duo operated both of the production facilities at their full capacity in 2013, producing 303,000 units of the Hyundai brand and 313,000 of Kia.

Chung also reiterated the importance of quality and demanded that the company prepare for the expected surge of demand by ensuring the steady shipment of parts from its suppliers.

“We must maintain what we have so far accomplished but also strengthen our fundamental competitiveness and gain legitimate ground in the European market,” said Chung.

Also on Wednesday, Chung visited dealerships as well as the Technology Research Center in Frankfurt, Germany, to examine local development plans and sales strategies.

“While we should exercise suitable marketing strategies for new models waiting to be unveiled in Europe, we must also review the competitiveness of the lineups that have been lucrative,” Chung added.

Earlier in the year, the carmaker announced that it would continue to focus on mid- to long-term growth rather than expanding immediate supply, raising its sales target by only 1 percent from the previous year to 750,000 units.

On Thursday, before returning to Korea, the chairman was also scheduled to visit the auto plant in St. Petersburg, Russia, which has been producing cars including the Solaris subcompact to lead the country’s auto market.

By Kim Joo-hyun (jhk@heraldcorp.com)

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