Three Things You Didn't Know About Hyundai

An interview with Frank Ferrara, executive vice president of customer satisfaction for Hyundai, reveals three things you didn't know about Hyundai and they may not all be good for the brand.

In an interview with The Detroit News Ferrara talks about upcoming expansion plans, the influence of women on Hyundais, and plans for a third SUV to enter the lineup.

It's the upcoming expansion plans that could have the biggest impact on the Korean automaker and potentially lead to quality problems if a tight rein isn't kept on production. Ferrara told The Detroit News' Henry Payne that Hyundai is going to start selling in Mexico in May. The brand used to sell product there under the Chrysler name.

Selling cars in Mexico isn't the problem. What's concerning is the fact that Hyundai plans to export vehicles from its Mobile, Ala., manufacturing plant.

Why's that a concern? Hyundai in April will introduce the 2015 Sonata at the New York Auto Show. The model will go on sale by the third quarter. Production will have to ramp up to meet what, I hope, will be strong demand. Yet, the plant will already be turning out product for the Mexican market.

Capacity problems with Sonata production lead to quality issues. Any quality concerns could end up hurting the Sonata. It took Volkswagen years to recover from the stigma of low quality.

{Clarification: I'm not implying there are currently quality problems with the Sonata. It's just that I hope Hyundai keeps a strong quality control focus when production ramps up. The new Sonata is going to be a huge sales driver initially. I hope its success continues and no quality problems arise because of the addition of the Mexican market.}

Ferrara also talked openly about a third SUV – smaller than the Tucson – coming to the Hyundai lineup. It would be really cool if this small SUV had more of a luxury or performance bent to it. Think of a Veloster Turbo SUV tuned to take on the BMW X1 for example. Not saying it's going to happen but the market doesn't need another economy SUV.

The third thing you didn't know about Hyundai? Women, according to Ferrara, "are a big part of our market. When I first started at Hyundai women didn’t drive in Korea," he said. Ferrara joined the company in 1986.


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.