Interview with John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai America
Hyundai CEO John Krafcik has never been a man to shirk question, so it came as no real surprise to hear that he recently visited the offices of Automobile magazine for an interview.
Here is a quick recap of 5 of the questions posed, as well as Mr. Krafcik’s answers:
Question 1 asked if Hyundai were thinking of introducing a premium brand along the lines of Acura to Honda and Infiniti to Nissan.
Krafcik responded by saying that they had given some considerable thought to doing just that with the Genesis. What basically stopped them short were the huge costs associated with operating standalone premium showrooms for a single vehicle.
He estimated that the $10-20 million required adding space to a single dealership, multiplied by 200, would result in $5-6000 dollars added to the price tag of a Hyundai Genesis.
He went on to say that the experience that they have has with the Equus luxury sedan has been fantastic, but not enough to turn it into a single brand.
Question 2 concerned the use of Fluidic Sculpture design. Specifically regarding its future and how new Hyundai models would be differentiated from one another.
Mr. Krafcik answered by saying that if you look at progression from Sonata to Elantra to Azera, you see a definite maturing of the design process.
He promised that evolution would continue with the new Santa Fe, as well as in future models were a design process called Fluidic Precision would be used. That should show up in the next-generation 2014 Hyundai Sonata whose design has just been frozen.
Question 3 was in regard the Veloster Turbo and its expected arrival date in showrooms.
Krafcik revealed that the first US sale of the Veloster Turbo has already been made, as well as a few north of the border in Canada. He said it was the same with the 2013 Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT with sales kicking off a couple of weeks ago.
Question 4 had to do with possible future Hyundai models and body styles.
According to Mr. Krafcik there is a possibility of seeing a premium crossover, but virtually zero chance of a convertible, minivan, or pickup truck.
In regards the minivan body style, Krafcik said that the size of the market didn’t really fit into their volume, especially since it’s basically a North American only platform.
As for the pickup truck, he said that while there was a definite market for them, he also said that it was virtually impossible to boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy -CAFE numbers when adding a truck to the lineup.
It wasn’t all no’s though, with Krafcik saying that we will almost definitely see an all-wheel drive sedan or coupe in the future. That is most likely to show up in the next generation Genesis.
He was also asked about producing a BMW 3 Series-beater and responded by saying that it will probably happen with the release of the next generation Genesis Coupe.
As for the convertible SUV or Santa Fe Cross-Cabriolet possibility, Krafcik said that was a segment best left in the hands of Nissan.
Question 5 was in regards the class-action lawsuit that is leveled against the Elantra fuel economy. He was asked if Hyundai would consider using a combined fuel economy rating instead.
Mr. Krafcik felt that Hyundai had very much met and adhered to FTC regulations when marketing the new Elantra.
He believes that the lawsuit focuses on the fact the 40 mpg achieved was somehow not properly attributed to highway driving. He also said that other cars such as the Ford Focus and Fiesta, Chevy Cruze, and Dodge Dart all marketed their vehicles in the exact same manner.
As for the part about using combines numbers, Krafcik feels that going that route would mean losing out in sales to the other automakers who continue with the current trend.
He feels that producing and selling cars with fantastic fuel economy can only be good for the environment, as well as reducing the dependence on foreign oil.
All that said, he really feels that continuing to advertise the highway mpg number is the socially responsible way to advertise. [Source: Automobilemag]