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Hyundai Motor executive to meet angry netizens

Hyundai Motor Group will host a face-to-face meeting between its executive responsible for domestic sales and local netizens who have are upset with its vehicles on Dec. 14 as part of its efforts to regain customer trust and improve brand image. 
Hyundai Motor vice chairman Kwon Moon-sik, who is responsible for the R&D function, hosts a Q&A session with invited students in November. Hyundai Motor
Hyundai Motor vice chairman Kwon Moon-sik, who is responsible for the R&D function, hosts a Q&A session with invited students in November. Hyundai Motor

The rare move was revealed on Wednesday with an online banner inviting members of bobaedream.co.kr, one of the largest community sites for car lovers.

The site has also been known to be the epicenter of negative sentiments against Hyundai Motor Group and its vehicles. Upset customers on the site have run down Hyundai and Kia cars, calling them “deadly weapons.”

They have often expressed anger over the lack of response from the carmaker to product defects and for offering more favorable options to customers overseas.

“The talks between the two parties were designed as the third event of the ‘Maeum Dream,’ a campaign designed to improve communication with customers this year,’’ a group official said.

Kwak Jin, executive vice president overseeing the domestic sales division at Hyundai Motor, will lead the open discussion with netizens at The K-Hotel in southern Seoul, following their on-site visit to the Namyang R&D Center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

The executive has reportedly been updated on issues online posted by upset customers on a daily basis.

The online responses of Bobaedream members to the talks with the Hyundai Motor executive were varied. Some of them complained of their inability to join the event as it is a working day, raising doubts that the company intends to seek low participation. Others backed the automaker’s proactive action to reboot customers’ trust on its products.

Industry watchers said the negative sentiments against Hyundai cars have exacerbated due in part to the carmaker’s lack of communication for a while.

The nation’s top automotive group shifted to more open communication in customer relations this year by launching the Maeum Dream campaign, with its market share on the home turf continuing to fall.

Affected by fast-growing sales of the imported car brands, the combined domestic market share of Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors fell below 70 percent to 69.3 percent in 2014, for the first time since their merger in December 1998. Despite new car launches this year, industry watchers said the market share will stay below 70 percent again.

“Hyundai Motor, which has advanced into a global player in a short period time based on its market dominant status in Korea, has to listen more carefully to local customers. Otherwise, it could face stronger resistance from them,’’ an industry insider said.

The automaker plans to continue talks between its executives and different customer groups. It said the group’s chief design officer Peter Schreyer will lead the fourth talks.

Previously, Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho and Hyundai Motor Group vice chairman Kwon Moon-sik, who is responsible for the R&D function, joined the campaign, while having a meeting with a different group of customers.

By Seo Jee-yeon (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)
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