This is a decidedly democratic downturn. Even some of the strongest brands, like Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, have been suffering declines well into the double-digits, in recent months. Only a rare few marques have defied the recession, with sales holding at least steady with last year’s levels.
Hyundai is a member of that exclusive club, one senior executive recently quipping that “flat is the new up.”
The Korean carmaker’s success might have come as a surprise only a few years ago, when it was the butt of frequent jokes on the late-night talk show circuit. But a combination of value, an assortment of new products – and a creative incentive program meant to shield customers from the ravages of the recession – have paid off even more than senior company officials had predicted.
But can Hyundai keep its momentum going? Even CEO John Krafcik admits it won’t be easy if the economy doesn’t start cooperating again soon.