South Korea’s Hyundai Motor To Re-Enter Japan After 12 Years

After having exited the Japanese market twelve years ago because of a slump in sales, South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Co. is all set to re-enter the market, the company said on  Tuesday. Making the announcement, the South Korean company said that its decision was based on an increase in demand for electric vehicles in the market and this was cited as an opportunity for itself by the South Korean company in a market that is completely dominated by Japan’s Toyota Motor.

Hyundai has announced that it will market the Nexo SUV hydrogen fuel cell electric car and the Ioniq 5 midsize crossover electric vehicle (EV) in the Japanese market, which is at the heart of the company’s goal of capturing 10 per cent of the worldwide EV sales market by 2025.

“We haven’t yet set a target for sales, but we will try to provide more information once we begin taking orders online in May,” the head of Hyundai Mobility Japan, Shigeaki Kato, said at a launch event in Tokyo.

Hyundai, which dominates the auto market in neighboring South Korea with affiliate Kia Corp, launched its initial attempt to gain market share in Japan in 2001 but quit after selling only 15,000 cars.

Around nine-tenths of the five million automobiles sold in Japan, each year are Japanese brands, with Toyota Motor accounting for around 40% of the market. Aside from luxury models, foreign manufacturers have struggled to close the gap.

However, rising demand for electric vehicles, particularly Tesla Inc models, may provide heritage manufacturers like Hyundai, Volkswagen AG, and Stellantis, the producer of Peugeot cars, a second chance.

Even though just over 20,000 electric vehicles were sold in Japan last year, that sale number for the segment was higher by almost 50 per cent, compared to the sale of electric vehicles in the previous year. However there was fall in the overall car sales in the market. According to the Japan Automobile Importers Association, EV imports increased nearly threefold to a record 8,610 units (JAIA).

Hyundai CEO Jaehoon Chang apologized for the car company’s departure 12 years ago in a video statement shown at the Tokyo presentation. He claimed that only 600 Hyundai automobiles were still on the road in Japan.

Hyundai will focus on online sales this time, Kato later stated, and is cooperating with a car-sharing business run by DeNA Co, an online social gaming company, and Sompo Holdings, which allows private car owners to hire out their automobiles.

(Adapted from Asia.Nikkei.com)

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