According to the president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI), Hyundai's sales performance in the Philippines--already amazing as it is--could be even better if only Korea were able to supply the market's demand. "Last year, we lost some 6,500 in actual sales," HARI lady boss Fe Agudo told us over lunch. "The Tucson alone had 5,000 back orders that our South Korean principal couldn't meet due to the phenomenal global demand for the car. Also, we had to refuse 1,500 orders for the old Accent since the new model had already arrived. Hyundai didn't want to continue assembling the old Accent just to satisfy demand from the taxicab business."
Assuming Hyundai had been able to meet the demand of HARI customers last year, the brand would have sold some 27,000 units, bringing it closer to industry number two Mitsubishi, which chalked up a total of 32,422 units. Asked if she thought Hyundai could overtake Mitsubishi this year the way it did Honda last year, Agudo said, "It's possible, but again depending on our supply."
And so, it seems only the limited supply from Korea is holding back HARI. Which is somewhat believable considering how Columbian Autocar Corporation has been lamenting the lack of supply from Kia. Hyundai and Kia, both belonging to the same group, have been enjoying unprecedented sales success worldwide, resulting in a staggering global demand that Korea is scrambling to meet.
HARI now has 38 dealerships nationwide, and the number is growing. "We'll soon open seven more in the provinces, bringing our dealership network total to 45 by the end of June," revealed Agudo. "On top of this, we still have 28 pending dealership applications."
After growing its volume by 82 percent in 2010, HARI has every reason to be bullish this year. However, Agudo is prudent enough to manage expectations. "We're projecting just a 25-percent sales growth for 2011. In fact, I'd be happy if we could just maintain our total from last year."
With the new Accent and the new Elantra soon to hit Hyundai showrooms, that's being disproportionately modest.