With a competitive roster of crossovers – especially two highly discussed three-rows utilities – Hyundai Motor Company scored a major victory for 2019. Their new products were very well received. And they handily beat their competitors, who generally posted substantial declines for the year. Genesis also had a good year, the brand seems poised to disrupt the luxury segment. Nice job, Korea!
At Hyundai, crossovers are stealing the show. The Palisade found 28,736 buyers for the year, which is a pretty decent showing considering the circumstances. Production has yet to get up to full capacity at the Ulsan, South Korea plant in which it’s made (the Telluride is manufactured in Georgia). It’ll probably easily sell double that number when there’s more to go around. As for Hyundai’s former three row, the Santa Fe was up 9% to 127,323. Hyundai refreshed it not too long ago, and the restyle brought with it an attractive exterior and an upgraded interior, so it’s not too surprising buyers gravitated towards it. That being said, Hyundai’s true winner was the Kona. The company moved 73,326 in 2019, which represented a staggering 56% increase. To be fair, 2018 was the model’s introductory year, but getting up to 73,000 in one year is still noteworthy. Perhaps it stole a bit of the Tucson’s thunder? The compact crossover dropped 3.4% to 137,381. Hyundai also managed to sell 1,077 examples of the Venue subcompact, which very recently reached dealerships. Even with the Tucson’s slight decrease, Hyundai’s crossovers performed very strongly. New models contributed to a 20% increase in crossovers sales, which brought Hyundai’s crossover lineup to 53% of total volume, up from 46% in 2018.
Hyundai’s car lineup didn’t fare too badly though. The Sonata’s 87,466 figure represented a 17% drop. With the mid-size currently undergoing a model changeover that was to be expected. Elantra sales dropped to just over 175,000 for a 13% decrease and the Accent convinced 25,628 buyers to take one home last year, which was about 12% less than 2018. The Ioniq and Veloster were the only cars to post positive numbers, with the Ioniq up 30% to 19,574 and the Veloster up 18% to 12,849. With all the critical praise heaped on the Veloster N, it’s no surprise it did well.
Kia was basically saved by the Sportage and Telluride. Sportage sales increased 7% to 89,278 while the Telluride won over 58,604 buyers. The Telluride’s volume already puts it within spitting distance of the Nissan Pathfinder (65k sold in 2019) and allows it to credibly threaten the Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas (81k sales each in 2019) in 2020 provided Kia overcomes its supply constraints. Not bad for a vehicle that wasn’t even at dealerships a year ago. Sorento sales decreased 11% to 95, 951 as Kia shoppers likely defected to the red-hot Telluride. Minivan buyers did not favor the Sedona in 2019, which found 2,000 fewer homes last year, for a total a tad under 16,000. Finally, the Soul lost some of its…soul to the tune of about 6,000 and topped out at 98,033 for 2019.
Every Kia passenger car performed worse in 2019. Kia’s bread-and-butter sedans, the Forte and Optima, each lost about 5,500 units of volume. That being said, they still sold in decent numbers, with both finding about 96,000 homes last year. The Stinger dropped 3,000 to 13,861 but will hopefully never be cancelled because it is good looking, sized right, and basically the last of its kind. The Rio, Cadenza, Niro, and K900 were also less popular in 2019, but no one really cares about those cars anyway so the exact numbers are meaningless.
Genesis continues to grow. The fledgling luxury brand was hampered by Hyundai’s constantly changing plans regarding standalone or shared showrooms, and they supremely pissed off some dealers when they eventually decided to opt for a standalone retail sales model. Fortunately, Genesis seems to be finally gaining some traction. The brand is up 106% compared to 2018 and the three amigos sales (G70, G80, G90) totaled 21,233 for the year. Check out these sweet percentage increases: G70 experienced a 434% jump, the G80 went up 158% and the G90 did even better, with a 170% increase. Genesis should have a new motto: “The importance of fresh product and positive buzz.” Can the brand crest 100,000 sales by the end of the decade? Probably.
Overall, Hyundai Motor Company did very well in 2019. Despite some loss in car volume, they introduced some compelling products that more than made up for it. The Palisade and Telluride are poised to be a dynamic duo. And the Venue should perform well because it offers a denim interior. Genesis shows promise too. It seems like 2020 will be another banner year for the automaker.