Hyundai's plans for world domination

* Bid to become world's biggest car maker * Genesis to take on BMW 3 Series * Electric cars by 2014...

Hyundai's plans for world domination

Hyundai says it has 'bold plans for years to come' as it seeks, along with partner Kia, to overtake Ford, Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota to become the world's biggest car maker.

Those plans include developing specific cars for specific areas of the world, niche vehicles that will be sold on a global basis, electrification of some models and an expansion of the Genesis range (currently not available in the UK) to take on the mighty BMW 3 Series.

Hyundai and Kia won't seek partnerships or co-operation deals with other car makers to achieve their goal, says president and CEO Steve Yang, although they would consider collaboration over things such as battery technology and hydrogen fuel cell development.

The 2013-14 period looks like being important for Hyundai. By then it will have at least one small SUV beneath today's Tucson, and will have completed the smaller Genesis saloon aimed at the 3 Series. There will also be the first Hyundai and Kia hybrids and electric vehicles on sale in Europe around the same time.

Unique models for specific markets
There will be no one-size-fits-all policy like the strategy Ford is pursuing, with cars developed on a global basis, pledges Yang. 'We are trying to increase our share by providing unique new models with certain cars to certain areas,' he said.

'Up to now the world car has not worked, but the EV [electric vehicle] could be a world car. It cannot be developed for certain areas - FCEVs (fuel-cell electric vehicles) should also be developed as a world car.'

The rise of Hyundai and Kia in recent years has been extraordinary, to the extent that they were able to strengthen their position in the aftermath of the world banking crisis while many rivals were tightening their belts.

'Last year when the world economy was shrinking, many industries hesitated to move forward, but we had a different strategy,' said Yang. 'We went to market more aggressively and spent a lot of money. We also introduced certain models for certain areas and only for those areas.

'Our sales portfolio is now well balanced. Around 17% of our sales are in Europe, 18-19% in the USA, 20% are domestic and 20% in China, leaving 24-25% in the rest of the world. We are able to recover if there is trouble in one market.

'We have also invested a lot of money on common platforms and powertrains. When we bought Kia there were 24 platforms. Today there are six. Thanks to that we can efficiently build many vehicles.'

No Hyundai 'Lexus'
However, Yang rules out the rumoured premium brand from the Hyundai-Kia group to take on Toyota's Lexus, Nissan's Infiniti or the Acura division of Honda, currently available only in America.

'Some manufactures have a so-called premium brand, but are they successful? Customers don't know what an Infiniti or an Acura is,' said Yang.

'We are penetrating the premium market by showing that Hyundai has good technology to build premium cars. Our aim is to bring premium value to as many people in the world as we can at an affordable price.'