Hyundai suffers rare setback, pulls out of Japan

Hyundai suffers rare setback, pulls out of Japan

Hans Greimel
Automotive News | November 30, 2009 – 1:52 pm EST


TOKYO — Hyundai Motor Co. may be growing globally despite the recession, but business in Japan is so bad the carmaker has decided to pull out after just eight years in the country.

On Dec. 1 Hyundai will notify its 46 dealers in Japan about its intention to halt sales here, company spokesman Oles Gadacz said today.

“If you’re not a Gucci or a BMW, there are very few who prosper there,” Gadacz said. “Mass-market players have it very tough.”

Hyundai has sold just 15,095 passenger vehicles in Japan since entering the market in 2001. Volkswagen AG, the biggest selling import, sold 61,996 units in 2008 alone.

Hyundai’s flop in Japan stands in bold contrast to its success almost everywhere else. Global sales were up 7.2 percent through October, while U.S. sales advanced 4 percent.

Japan’s sluggish car market has been in decline for years, meaning a smaller pie for all players. But Korean imports face the additional hurdle of suffering a poor public image in Japan.

Hyundai intends to stay in Japan with its meager commercial-vehicle business. It began selling its Universe bus here in 2006 and has sold 43 units since.

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