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Hyundai Needs To Conquer California To Right Its Sales Ship

This is a turnaround year for Hyundai. Its sales need to improve for a larger market share, especially in its home state of California.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, "Hyundai experienced the biggest market-share slide of any auto brand, according to the California New Car Dealers Assn. The South Korean automaker’s share of the Golden State’s car market slipped to 3.9% from 4.6%."

Hyundai's sales share was 4.6% in United States in 2013, down from 4.9%. It still managed to have a record sales year but it came with an increased reliance on fleet sales. That's not good for the brand long term because it hurts residual values and eventually turns consumer perception against you when the local gas company meter readers are driving the same car you are.

More than 1.7 million light-duty vehicles (i.e. cars, pickups, SUVs and crossovers) were sold in California in 2013. That is 10.8 percent of the U.S. market or just about one in every nine cars sold here.

Hyundai is doing some things to turn around its brand image in California: the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle isn't going to improve sales numbers but it is going to help brand image in an increasingly green market.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is going to be big and beautiful with lots of power and style to match. That could speak well to a California audience. Interestingly, the company's decision not to sell the V8 version combined with all-wheel drive might be the California influence. After all, that market just may not want it.

Sure, Canada is getting it but that's a market that needs all-wheel drive. Probably 60 percent of the United States could use it but not the prime markets Hyundai needs to grow in the coming year to improve sales.

Nope, luxury in many parts of this country is still associated with rear-wheel drive sports sedans. Unless there is a resounding cry from California, I fear we may not see an all-wheel drive V8 Hyundai Genesis for a couple years.

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