08 March 2018
Author: Sean Keywood
Hyundai has a strong range of cars for fleets, but key to its future success in the sector will be raising awareness of its offering.
That's according to the manufacturer's UK fleet director, Michael Stewart, who spoke to BusinessCar at Hyundai's 'The Future of Retail' event, where the company revealed its targets for growth despite an overall decline in the UK car market.
Last year, overall UK Hyundai registrations were up 1.06%, giving it a 3.7% market share and, according to UK president and CEO Tony Whitehorn, its target this year is a 4% share.
There's also more fleet-specific success to build on, with the brand seeing a fleet increase of around 10% in 2017, including an increase of around 14% in true fleet.
Stewart, who took on his role in January, told BusinessCar, "The thing we're focused on, this year at least, is improving the quality of our fleet business.
"I think we can improve by talking to our end users directly. At the moment, we do well through white-label fleet products, but what we want to do is start to tell our story with some clients directly and, within that, improve our relationships within the leasing community - not just with major leasing businesses, but a wider cross section. There's lots of information to share about the business."
One of the attractions of Hyundai from a fleet perspective is a rapidly renewing model range. Whitehorn said that 12 new models would be launched this year and another seven next year.
This means that, by June this year, the oldest Hyundai on sale will be the Ioniq, launched in 2016; and by June next year, the oldest Hyundai on sale will be the Kona, which launched in November 2017.
Stewart said, "There are a raft of new products coming and, within that, great eco products that resonate through fleet."
According to Whitehorn, central to Hyundai's future success will be a place at the cutting edge of technology.
One area the brand has invested in heavily is hydrogen fuel cells and Whitehorn spoke of how the Nexo, Hyundai's sixth-generation fuel-cell car, will arrive at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, with a 498-mile range.
Explaining why the company is not yet committing even more heavily to the technology, Whitehorn said, "That's all to do with the infrastructure. We need more hydrogen filling stations. But it is coming.
"I believe by 2030, 300,000 fuel-cell vehicles will be sold."
Stewart said that while fuel-cell technology was still niche from a fleet perspective, it was an attention-grabbing technology that built interest in Hyundai.
He added, "When it comes to fuel-cell technology, we can support fleets in understanding how that could perhaps change the way we see motoring in the next ten, 15 and 20 years."
Although he has an eye on the future, Stewart believes one of the strengths of Hyundai's current fleet offering is a full range of fuel options, including diesel for the time being. He said, "Diesels are still important. Fundamentally, for us, there's a bit of a watching brief to understand how the government will deal with some of the issues.
"For those who need range, economy and low CO2, it very much still has a place, so we still invest there; but for us, it's much more about being able to offer a full solution."
Stewart said that the key for Hyundai was its ability to offer petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and full electric cars.
He continued, "I think alternative fuels are really important. We've got real strength there, but we need to raise awareness of what we're doing as a brand in the fleet space.
"It's a gateway for us to raise awareness of the rest of our products."