I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that no car company stays as hot as Hyundai has been. Many car companies before Hyundai have had it all figured out, or so they thought, only to run straight into a swirling maelstrom of mess of their own making, followed by a punishment in the market place that resonated for years afterward. Toyota and Lexus are just the most recent examples of that.
Last Sunday, news filtered in that Hyundai is recalling about 225,000 Sonatas and Santa Fe’s due to airbags. My senses came alive as I had predicted in this page that if Hyundai’s obsession with becoming the biggest, best car company on the planet continues unabated, it will cause them to walk away from what they do best, and lose their footing. Hyundai did not learn from what happened to Toyota.
Some time past, Hyundai’s U.S. sales boss, Dave Zuchowski, told Automotive News that the Korean automaker won’t risk quality lapses by increasing capacity too quickly in order to increase its sales 10 percent every year over the next three years, I figure the Hyundai train could be derailed at any moment. “We’ve made a conscious decision as a company not to compromise on quality in order to build more,” he told Automotive News. “Not everybody has made that decision, and it’s not always worked out very well for them.”
And how is Hyundai going to be different from the “others” in this business who have failed before? I can answer that one, too, because Hyundai is no different. They’re on an incredible roll and they have two exceptional products in the market in the Sonata and the Elantra, but they’re not immune to what has befallen more accomplished automakers in the past, by any means. But Hyundai’s creeping arrogance has a more ominous hint to it; they’re actually starting to believe that they cannot fail and that they won’t make mistakes. Well, I’ve got news for them: They will, on both counts.