Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH) is the new company that will distribute Hyundai passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles in the country.

After a long silence and much speculation, Hyundai Motor Company is returning to rebuild the faltering Hyundai brand in the Philippine market.

This was announced at a lunch meeting with motoring editors by Lee Dong Wook, president of Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH), the new company being organized by the Hyundai Motor Group to distribute Hyundai passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles in the country.

Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) will remain as the distributor of Hyundai trucks and buses. HARI is credited with catapulting the Hyundai brand to No. 3 in the auto industry’s top 10 sales performers in 2010, but was dislodged to No. 4 in 2019 and slid farther down to No. 8 during the first two COVID pandemic years. By year-to-date April this year, HARI had sunk to No. 17 with sales of only 103 units, as reported by the Philippine Automotive Dealers Association (PADA).

Today, starting its journey to rebuild the Hyundai brand, HMPH is inaugurating its office in Bonifacio Global City internally, without fanfare. Lee revealed that at present HMPH has a staff of 50 personnel which he hopes to increase to 100 by year-end. So far, HMPH has 39 dealerships, vetted and selected from the HARI dealer network.

What excited the motoring media present was Lee’s plan to bring in by July for local test driving the newest iterations of the Tucson, Santa Fe, Palisade, Creta and Staria, which replaces the Starex as Hyundai’s flagship 11-seater van. Most of these models will come from Korea, a few from Indonesia

When asked what is HMPH’s sales target this year with all these new models coming in, Lee replied that his first priority is to revitalize Hyundai brand awareness by increasing customer satisfaction.

“Customer satisfaction and experiences will be the bench marking rules for the new Hyundai in the Philippines,” he said. “Hyundai is coming back to the Philippines with a stronger purpose and commitment …. with a refreshed brand and high-quality standards to connect local customers to community. As you know, the Philippines plays an important role for Hyundai as it was one of the highest volume contributors in the Asia Pacific region… and we have seen such substantial growth here in the past. Obviously, we would like to increase our growth, business and partnerships with various shareholders in the country.”

Lee added that HMPH would rebuild the Hyundai brand step by step, from the ground up, first by creating attractive showrooms in dealerships nationwide, fill the showrooms with the new models that customers could inspect and test drive, then make sure that there is sufficient inventory to meet market demand and after-sales service, including enough OEM parts in stock.

“There was a problem with Hyundai’s brand image in the past decade,” Lee conceded. He attributed Hyundai’s faltering sales to the pandemic lockdowns and international travel restrictions which disrupted the supply chain, particularly the supply of semiconductors, and consequently reduced the allocation of new models from the assembly plants to the various markets worldwide. All the car manufacturers are still coping with these supply shortages, causing some to suspend production for months at a time.

As the head of the Asia-Pacific Sales Support Team of Hyundai Motor Co. before he was assigned to Manila a month ago, Lee knows of what he speaks. “Brand awareness was going down with declining sales volume in the Philippines,” he said, but hastens to add that “I’m not here to take over HARI. My goal is to increase customer satisfaction together with HARI. HMPH’s customer range is different, mainly the individual and family, while the customer range of HARI is fleet sales and companies.”

Aside from increasing customer satisfaction, Lee said that HMPH would like to increase local market awareness of Hyundai’s vision and mission. “Hyundai’s vision is ‘Progress for Humanity,’” he pointed out. “We believe progress only becomes meaningful when it is connected with a deep sense of humanity. It guides us in our investments and drives our innovations. Brand direction for the Philippine market is ‘innovate every day’ where we share your passion to improve. We innovate just as you choose to keep moving ahead. Hyundai makes every day a chance to innovate with you. We keep saving time while keeping you safe. We keep our focus on power that comes from clean energy. We keep rides comfortable for the long roads ahead. We keep innovating because we believe better days should be always ahead of us.”