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Jos Muoz welcomes us at the Hyundai booth at the Los Angeles Auto Show without assistants and almost making my boss wait, as he refers to.Euisun Chung, who was who signed him in 2019 as Global Director of Operations, but with the task of positioning Hyundai in a key market for the group such as USA, that of North America and, also that of Sudamrica. Euisun, today, is no longer executive vice president of the group, but has presided over it since October 2020 since he succeeded his father.
Muoz accepted the position and the challenge as he says. “When I got here, Hyundai was a very cheap brand, with many discounts and not very good quality; and that’s a negative spiral that doesn’t work because pulling prices never works. “
However, two years later, the situation is quite different. “That is why my bosses now come to the US more often, because we are doing things well. JD Power has positioned us to Hyundai as the most technological generalist brand already Genesis as the premium more technological. Genesis is helping us create a better position for both brands, “says Muoz.
The Spanish manager has restructured the executive and her team to flip the tortilla. This year, being a very complicated exercise, we are going to break sales and profit records. We have achieved in three of the months that we have been above Nissan and, in one of them, surpass Jeep, an iconic American brand.
One of the keys, in addition to the new products very much in the style of the Americans -with models like the Santa Fe and the Tucson and one pick up, the Santa Cruz– is that Hyundai has weathered the semiconductor crisis better than its American and European rivals.
Second half of 2022
“When here in the US everything was collapsed, we saw that in Asia the market recovered. We did not make any order cuts, so it has impacted us less than others. Also, our system is very flexible in plants that produce several models. In Alabama we make Elantra, Sonata, Tucson, Santa Fe and Santa Cruz with all configurations. So, if you discover that you do not get ‘chips’ for a model, then you go on to make more of another that you do have. Even so, we have lost production due to semiconductors, “he says.
When asked if the end of the chip crisis is in sight, Muoz says that for them “the third quarter was very hard, with very bad August and September.” “This is better,” he adds: “The expectation is that in the second half of 2022 the situation has already recovered a little, but the first half of the year will be complicated Because, even if you recover production, we have reduced our inventory by more than 50% and that of the dealers, by 80%. Even if you stick to the plan, we won’t have the ability to increase inventory. “
And remember that “however, the demand will be high because the price of money is low and with the 1.2 trillion of the Biden infrastructure plan there is a lot of joy. Also, keep in mind that many people who were going to buy the car have given them incentives to extend their renting one more year. These customers will have to change their car next year and demand will rise. “
Faced with this new rise in demand, Hyundai aims to grow its electrification mix, which is 12% in the US. The arrival of Ioniq 5 It is going to give us a push in this sense; then the Ioniq 6 will arrive [berlina] and later the Ioniq 7. Of the latter, a large seven-seater SUV, we have seen in Los Angeles the Seven prototype, which struggles within a key segment in the country.
Now, Muoz complains that within the aid that the Biden Administration is giving to electricians, there is discrimination if the car has been manufactured in a plant that has unions. “We have complained in writing. Because if you produce a car in the US, but your employees are not part of the union, they have $ 4,500 less per car of incentives than if the vehicles are made in syndicated plants “. It is an amount more than enough to change the purchase decision.
“If you want preserve the planet with these more sustainable vehicles, the cars we make in Alabama at our plant do this just like the ones made in Detroit. I don’t understand why the help would be different. And if you tell me that they do it to give work to the Americans, we produce here with employees of the country as well. In total, we at Hyundai Group are 100,000 employees in North America. “
Taking into account that the profitability of an electric car is lower today, when Hyundai has to put the 4,500 euros discount in order not to lose customers, it will weigh on profitability.
Nevertheless, welcomes Biden’s plan to implement 500,000 charging points for electricity in the US. But they also call for “the promotion of the hydrogen recharging infrastructure for trucks, passenger cars and for vertical take-off vehicles. Air taxis would be a solution to eliminate part of the traffic congestion, for example here in Los Angeles, where traffic jams they are horrible. ” In fact, Hyundai installed three hydrogenerators in its three dealerships in California, thanks to an agreement with Shell.
Muoz believes that your group is right when it wants to have more participation in the benefit of new mobility services. “We are not a traditional OEM but we are going to be a provider of mobility services. That is why we want to develop the software to generate business: We have the cars, we have the technology so if we have the software we will earn more. That is why we have taken a stake in Tekion to develop the digitization of our 500 dealerships in the US. “
Satisfied with the results in Spain
Muoz changes the expression on his face and smiles when he talks about Spain. “Polo Satrstegui is a ‘champion’ and with his team he has achieved that the Tucson has been the leader of the total market in the month of October. The group, because the Hyundai brand was the most sold and Kia was also in the ‘top 3’, is having an excellent performance in Spain.
Regarding the energy crisis, he explains that it is logical that Spain suffers more due to its dependence on the outside. “In the US the light has not turned up because here they have a lot of oil reserves and they know how to manage it. In addition, it has bet heavily on solar energy. But gasoline has risen a lot and it is a factor that can help accelerate electrification. Here many Californians buy Tesla and we have tripled electricity sales. ”
Although, in the US there are still huge ‘pick up’ of regular gasoline and eight cylinders.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism