August 09, 2014 01:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Hyundai is expanding its product line-up in Thailand with Malaysian-made models - starting with the Elantra Sport, which made its public debut yesterday.
The Elantra Sport is priced from Bt749,000 for an entry-level 1.8 GL model, Bt819,000 for the 1.8 GLE and Bt898,000 for the 1.8 GS.
These prices are introductory, meaning they will be offered for a month or two, and all three come with free first-class insurance for one year.
Hyundai Motor (Thailand) president Hideki Yanagisawa said the Asean Free Trade Area played an important role in helping the company offer more competitive pricing when compared with Korean-made vehicles.
“The benefits from the AFTA scheme are quite significant. Not only do we have more competitive costs, but we also get the chance to enhance product appeal through a more premium-equipment line-up, which makes the Elantra a stronger contender among the C-segment,” he said, using industry jargon for compact cars.
Hyundai aims to sell 100 Elantras per month, with total sales of all models between 5,000 and 6,000 this year. The H1 van is still the company’s core product in Thailand, contributing 80 per cent of total sales. Although Yanagisawa said there were no plans at this stage to assemble vehicles in Thailand, the country played an important role in the company’s Asean strategy, supplying parts to factories in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Thailand supplies interiors and body parts for the H1’s production in Indonesia.
Hyundai produces the H1 van and Tucson sport-utility vehicle in Indonesia and the Elantra and i10 mini-car in Malaysia, which Yanagisawa says is a passenger-car-oriented market.
He said Hyundai would consider producing another model in Malaysia within the next two years and that its parent company was re-evaluating the importance of the Asean market.
“Hyundai Motor is reconfirming the possibilities of the Asean market once again after concentrating on other major markets around the world.”
“In the past we have been focusing on the US and China markets, but recently the parent company has been studying the capabilities of Asean countries, which are mainly dominated by Japanese brands.”
In Thailand, Hyundai sales dropped by up to 20 per cent during the first six months of the year.
“In 2012 we sold over 5,000 units but in 2013 sales fell to approximately 4,000 units due to supply problems,” he said. He said auto sales in Thailand were expected to grow during the second half of the year as the political situation had become more stable.