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Fuel cells improving Hyundai's image

Date: 07 November 2014   |   Author:

Hyundai's investment in fuel cell technology is helping to make it a "serious brand to deal with" when it comes to fleet sales, according to the firm's UK fleet director.

Martin Wilson told BusinessCar the brand was using its leadership on fuel cell vehicles in a similar way to how Toyota had become synonymous with hybrid technology. The ix35 hydrogen fuel cell launched at the end of October and Hyundai has allocated dedicated fuel cell specialists within its network to sell the cars.

The Government is investing £11 million to improve hydrogen infrastructure and Sainsbury's will open the first supermarket hydrogen-filling centre in north London before the end of this year.

Wilson said: "We were a bit part player with the leasing companies but now they're talking to us.
"We're still an out and out challenger brand but we're using technology like hydrogen fuel cell and we're on the front foot with the tech and that's helped open doors for us."

Hyundai has had three straight years of fleet growth and volumes have increased by 9% year-on-year, but the next step is to challenge mainstream players for larger fleet deals.

Wilson admitted Hyundai needs to be talking to more customers to boost its large corporate volumes. Hyundai's fleet team has grown from eight to 18 and the company is now talking to approximately 120 new customers a month. There is also a network of 50 Hyundai specialist business centres within its network working on increasing SME business sales.

Wilson said controlling Hyundai's residual values is something the firm needs to do more work on and it now has a better mix of short-cycle business, reduced from 16,000 to 14,000.

He said: "Our sector mix is improving year-on-year. We'll do 40,000 units in total fleet this year and we'll look to increase our true fleet and SME business further.

"We're going to be realistic and say we can't walk away from short-cycle business.  Daily rental business is fine, as long as you don't do too much."

Wilsons's next focus for fleet will be the new i20 which he is expecting to have much stronger RVs than the old model. He believes the i20 will be much closer to the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta due to the leap in quality.

He said: "Every car we bring out is like a double generation leap over the previous model and that's the case for the i20."

Hyundai will also bring its Genesis executive saloon to the UK next summer. The car will have its work cut out to compete against German rivals, but Hyundai is happy to chip away, attracting customers looking to make their money go further.

Wilson said: "We haven't got the huge database that Vauxhall, VW or Ford have, but we've got a big conquest opportunity."