In the war for car shopper’s money, Hyundai may have unleashed a weapon that will sway buyers to their side, and that product is the Venue. It’s not exactly the first of its kind, nor is it especially unique, but it will certainly be a compelling option for buyers in the market for an entry level vehicle. Hyundai, like many other automakers these days, is pinning its future on crossovers. And by creating the Venue it may have reinforced the establishment of a burgeoning segment in the process.
With the demise of inexpensive cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze, and the expectation that more subcompact and compact cars will be cancelled in the near future, people have questioned how automakers will retain shoppers interested in new vehicles in the sub $20,000 range. Hyundai may have that answer in the form of its upcoming crossover, the Venue. Although Hyundai currently has the Accent on hand for entry level shoppers, sales of the subcompact decreased by just under fifty percent between 2017 and 2018.
Obviously those customers didn’t get snapped by Thanos or something. They’re still around and they’re buying something other than diminutive sedans. That realization prompted Hyundai to develop the Venue. The Korean automaker’s thought process was covered by Automotive News several days ago, and the article explains how the company fought their instinct to develop an all wheel drive system for the Venue in order to deliver a vehicle with a lower starting price:
“O’Brien said the decision to pass on awd was critical to the larger mission: creating an alternative to entry-level cars on the outs with consumers, and digging down into the market of used-car buyers who really want something new, that looks like an SUV and has modern safety and tech features. About a third of the 40 million used-vehicle transactions last year, he said, started with a buyer looking for a new vehicle and striking out. That’s a big target audience for the Venue.
When you make all-wheel drive, you have to have larger axles and larger hubs and larger suspension components, and all those things cost money,” O’Brien said. “The easiest thing for product planners to do is to add. Nobody resists you. ‘Oh, add it, add it, add it.’ And then you have to pay for it, and then the product becomes difficult to afford,” O’Brien said.”
Basically, Hyundai developed a vehicle that can serve the dual role of capturing customers who would normally switch to a used vehicle and the ones who want a new car but are not on board with something like an Accent. It certainly sounds like a recipe for success if it’s priced right. With the Kona boasting a starting price of $21,035 including shipping, the little crossover can comfortably occupy the $5,000 gap between the Accent ($15,915 with shipping) and the Kona with a base price of approximately $18,500, which would make it less expensive than the competition and within the realm of a fully loaded subcompact car. It’s official price will no doubt be influenced by the cost savings realized by ditching an all wheel drive system.
Of course Hyundai doesn’t plan to just offer the Venue without any compelling features. Aside from the now ubiquitous safety tech like automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert, the Hyundai will come standard with an Android Auto and Apply CarPlay interface, a piece of technology that is important to younger buyers and one that isn’t always available on competitor’s base trims.
A denim inspired interior is also available to Venue customers. The inclusion of such a unique upholstery option is similar to the strategy that Nissan employs with the Kicks, only in that particular case the oddball equipment is a set of headrest mounted speakers.
I had the opportunity to experience the Venue at the 2019 New York auto show. I’d say the automotive intelligentsia were right to put this at the top of their respective lists of the best vehicles that were at the Javits Center.
It’s a funky little crossover that boasts a nice interior, and that’s not even taking into account the denim seats, which feel like the real thing and are amazing. That kind of quirkiness will almost certainly win over some buyers.
Of course quirkiness doesn’t exactly guarantee success. And despite what the executive in that piece wants everyone to think, the Venue isn’t the first of its kind. The Ford EcoSport is similarly sized and has been around since last year. The Kicks is Nissan’s answer to the same question Hyundai was asking when it developed the Venue, even if it is almost a foot longer than the Hyundai. There’s also the Kia Soul, which will likely be priced similarly to certain trim levels of the Venue. These competitors may prevent the Venue from being a massive hit, but the introduction of this mini crossover is no less significant for it. And it’s a likely predictor of exactly how rival automakers will approach the sub $20,000 new car market in the age of the crossover.
“Hyundai Venue’s Goal: Redefine Entry Level” – Lawrence Iliff, Automotive News
And in case you were wondering what that title was referencing, it is this song. That is definitely a NSFW link.