Hyundai has finally and emphatically ruled out any move to match the seven-year new-car warranty at its partner brand, Kia.
Quizzed about the chance for a warranty extension in Australia, the chief operating officer of Hyundai Australia delivered a blunt, one-word answer.
“Never,” John Kett told CarExpert. “We’ve toyed with this for so long that we’ve moved on beyond it.”
Mr Kett’s one-word verdict is the most emphatic statement on Hyundai’s warranty since it moved to a five-year package as part of the value-driven philosophy that made it first into drive-away pricing in Australia with stickers always ending in $990.
He admitted a warranty extension had been investigated and costed more than once, but the potential benefits were not good enough.
“We’ve just got to be comfortable in our skin … without having to match on price, dollar-for-dollar, and warranty,” he said.
Apart from Kia, Hyundai has also fallen behind Mitsubishi on warranty, with Chinese brands also in front.
Talking about warranty and pricing, Mr Kett said Hyundai is making fundamental changes to its brand position in Australia.
“They are both incredible tools and have done a great job for us. But for us to shift our business where we want, which is away from deep discounting, things need to change.
“In the priority of the things we need to do, it ranks the lowest. Brand, for us, is the key factor.”
Hyundai trailed Kia in the sales race to the end of September, with 56,958 new cars delivered relative to 59,123 respectively according to VFACTS totals, but Mr Kett is not concerned.
He said Hyundai is rebounding strongly from COVID-19 and significant backlogs in deliveries, although its nine-month total for 2023 is still behind the 58,103 of 2022.
“We’re trying to get extra production slots. Each month the demand is growing. It’s starting to meet what we expected for this year
“We’ll be 75,000 or 76,000 this year by the December closes. So we’ll get back ahead of last year.”
Mr Kett also reported a surprisingly-low rate of cross shopping between Hyundai and Kia, based on his company’s internal research.
“The cross-shopping is not as prevalent as what people might think,” he said.
Still, there is competition and he concedes some advantages for Kia.
“At the end of the day, they have a portfolio advantage with Rio and Picanto. In fairness, they have got some benefit at entry,” he said. “That rivalry really exists. It’s good, it’s strong and it’s respectful. But we’ve got our eyes on the price.
“We’ve got incredible loyalty in our brands. We’ve got an incredibly big carparc. Future intenders know who we are.
“Together we’re number two in Australia. So we’re doing a pretty solid job.
“It would be nice to win. But give-or-take 1000 cars separating us, it’s not a bad job.”