"Hyundai-Kia deserves this past decade's 'world's most improved car company' title"
Ed Wallace - STAR-TELEGRAM
- April 2, 2010
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - Most fuel efficient full sized highway driver in North America when it is released later this year.
What pushes an automobile company to the top of everyone's buying list? It's not simple, and it doesn't happen quickly. Offering eight to 10 different models that sell well isn't always the answer. Car companies that offer a large array of vehicles are most often the ones facing long-term survival problems, because it's impossible for everything they build to win rave reviews and customers.
History suggests that if a car company simply has three major hits at any given time, then this is a car company to watch in the future. That is, assuming its dealers don't have those three hit products plus another 10 models that they must beat their brains out to sell.
A great case in point is Honda. For almost half a decade the company put its entire reputation on its breakthrough small car, the Civic. Then in 1976, Honda introduced the Accord hatchback, a vehicle that most automotive analysts now credit with altering the public's mindset about Japanese automobiles. But that still wasn't enough to change Honda's fortunes worldwide.
No, it was the 1979 energy crisis - occurring simultaneously with the new Honda Accord sedan, the Honda Prelude and the second generation of the Civic - that put Honda over the top. Only then could everyone see that Honda was going to be a long-term player in the American market. And even then it took the Japanese automaker almost two decades to pass the million-sales-a-year mark in the U.S.
I picked Buick last week as a probable winner in the market over the long haul, even though Buick's overall volume is not impressive by automotive media standards. Why, then? Because already the company has two strong hits with the right demographic buyer. One more hit vehicle, and Buick will be in the same position as Honda was in 1979.
But there is other comer in the auto market: Hyundai... [Read More]