Hyundai sets sales record, growth slows
Hyundai sales ended the year hot in North America, with an all-time company-best December contributing to a record 2014.
Hyundai Motor America said Monday that it sold 64,507 vehicles last month and 725,718 overall last year — both new highs for the Korean automaker. In fact, it set six monthly sales records last year, including a streak of four straight months during the summer.
Most of those sales were Elantras and Sonatas, and the Montgomery production plant rolled out nearly 400,000 of the company’s two most popular vehicles last year to keep dealers stocked. The plant fell about a thousand cars short of its 2013 assembly record as the Sonata redesign slowed production a bit last spring.
“We ended the year on a high note,” said Bob Pradzinski, HMA’s vice president of national sales.
Yet Hyundai’s American sales aren’t accelerating quite as fast as they were in previous years. While the numbers have grown each of the past five years, the pace of growth has slowed as competition ramped up and the company strained against its production limits.
The company announced in 2012 that it would put the brakes on its capacity growth worldwide, shortly after adding a third shift in Montgomery and moving to round-the-clock weekday production here.
In a visit to the Montgomery plant in June, HMA President and CEO Dave Zuchowski said it may be time to grow again to keep up with the industry.
“…with what the industry is doing right now we will not be able to maintain market share,” Zuchowski said in June. “So we can continue to set sales records, but we’ll lose market share and we don’t want to do that.
“We’re probably at a point now where over a longer period of time, in order to sustain growth, you need to start having those (expansion) conversations and that thought process. That’s occurring as we speak.”
Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo told employees in his New Year’s speech that the group should cut costs, increase productivity and share components, while forecasting the weakest growth in yearly Hyundai and Kia car sales in more than a decade.
The Montgomery plant operates 24 hours a day on weekdays, with three shifts rolling out most of the cars HMA sells in North America. Last year, they often worked on Saturday as well.
“For the last five years it’s really been done through greater operating efficiency as we’ve gone to three shifts,” Zuchowski said. “We’ve picked up Saturdays. We’ve increased line speeds. We’ve done it all with terrific quality.”
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama spokesman Robert Burns said there are no Saturday shifts scheduled for the Montgomery plant this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Hyundai sales growth
2009 – 435,064
2010 – 538,228
2011 – 645,691
2012 – 703,007
2013 – 720,783
2014 – 725,718
Hyundai Motor America
Hot 2014 sales
Sonata, 9,815; Elantra, 15,326; Total, 44,005
Sonata, 11,190; Elantra, 16,393; Total, 49,003
Sonata, 19,248; Elantra, 21,518; Total, 67,005
Sonata, 20,495; Elantra, 24,445; Total, 66,107
Sonata, 20,404; Elantra, 21,867; Total, 70,907
Sonata, 25,195; Elantra, 17,168; Total, 67,407
Sonata, 22,577; Elantra, 22,213; Total, 67,011
Sonata, 21,092; Elantra, 22,845; Total, 70,003
Sonata, 14,918; Elantra, 18,848; Total, 56,010
Sonata, 15,563; Elantra, 12,758; Total, 50,081
Sonata, 18,515; Elantra, 14,002; Total, 53,672
Sonata, 17,294; Elantra, 18,860; Total, 64,507
Hyundai Motor America