Claudia Márquez
CEO
Hyundai Motors de México
/
View from the Top

Hyundai: Resilience and Empathy are Key

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 10/26/2020 - 06:00

Q: What are some of the lessons Hyundai has learned from the pandemic?

A: It has been really exciting to see teamwork, empathy and understanding regarding the unprecedented situation we are all living. The most important element is everyone’s well-being. I’ve worked in the automotive industry for 25 years and it can still be very traditional. Yearly budgets are the rule and home office schemes were difficult to visualize, for example. The pandemic forced us to take different approaches, which demonstrates not only how flexible we were as a sector but also how we were able to operate with greater efficiency. That is one of our biggest lessons as a company and industry. We have challenged the system and proved that home office is effective, even in a traditional industry such as automotive.

There also is a global inclination to be more empathetic and resilient in the face of the crisis. We demonstrate our human approach to the public through different campaigns. We launched our #YoCedo (I concede) campaign in which we lent vehicles to medical staff to support COVID-19 health facilities. We continue to think of ways to contribute to our society and our customers.

On the organizational side, I personally hold a meeting with my staff to keep in touch, to find new ways to be there for our teams and understand what each member needs from each other. Different ideas can provide fresh perspectives. Our HR areas also keep our teams updated to provide them with certainty, which has allowed us to be closer to each other.

Q: What were Hyundai’s strategies to adapt to digital sales processes?

A: We already had our Hyundai Live platform, which allows potential consumers to have direct contact with the brand. This makes it easier for the user to explore our world and its benefits. Fortunately, this project started in 2019, before the pandemic, and allowed us to keep in touch with our customers. In case of vehicle maintenance, we enabled a concierge service so our customers could feel safe when getting their vehicle repaired. We understood that buying a new vehicle was not a priority but we kept the sales process available online.

Q: How will quality and service look like in the aftermath of COVID-19?

A: As a sector, we are still in the process of understanding where we stand. Strategies that could be implemented today might not necessarily work in two weeks. Even with a vaccine, we need to keep up the good practices we have developed so far, not only digitalization but mainly mutual understanding and empathy. This will keep us strong and help us be better people because we are bound by the same circumstances.

One of our advantages in Mexico is that we are a relatively small company, which allows us to have closer interaction with clients and our own people. From the very beginning, we replicated the strategies we have seen in Asia and Europe. Our first reaction was to protect our people. This implied providing them with alternative working schemes while reassuring them that we would defend and honor their jobs. After six months, we needed to remain consistent with our decisions despite the challenges faced by the historic low sales seen in the industry. Consistent and clear decisions limit uncertainty among employees, who in return deliver more to the company. Protecting our people also meant taking care of them beyond any KPIs and actually asking them – me personally – how they were feeling.

Q: What is your perspective on the sales cycle the industry is experiencing?

A: This is neither a normal crisis nor the continuation of our 36-month sales decline from the peak reached in 2016. Sales forecasts are set to be around 920,000 units by the end of the year. This is a huge hit. It is around 30 percent below what we sold just a few years ago. This is not only affecting the automotive industry. It involves the entire economy and the country. The industry’s best bet is to acknowledge a slow sales recovery. We need to protect our customers, the brand and deal with a smaller share of the market. Having said that, we will continue to provide excellent service to our customers.

By readjusting our volumes, we will adapt to a new reality and plan production and sales accordingly. At the moment, we have between 3.5 and 3.8 percent of the market. Do we want more? At the moment, no, we do not. The reason is because we have a set product offering focused on the segments where we are strong. This is why our recovery has been slightly better, because we have a strategic plan for where we want to be. We will make sure to have the right products in the segments we want to participate in, and at competitive prices so our customers remain happy. When you see new Hyundai models coming to the market, then you can be sure we will be growing our market share.

Q: What are the skills that will be most valued by companies after the pandemic?

A: The key element is attitude. The technical element can be easily learned. But the attitude, resilience, proactivity, accountability, ethics and eagerness are what we are looking for. Since I took charge of Hyundai in November 2019, we have been looking for leaders who have those values. Here, they will be in a safe and thriving environment. This is really exciting because a corporate culture based on transparency, win-win relationships and ethics has an effect not only within the organization but on society in general.

Q: What is Hyundai’s role in advancing the future of mobility and the vehicle of the future?

A: Hyundai has always been characterized by its innovation and mobility-related projects. We recently launched our sub-brand IONIQ that will be 100 percent electric. This is part of our global effort to strengthen our presence in different segments and Mexico plays a really important role. We work constantly to adapt ourselves to the country’s needs and the trends that are emerging. Amid the pandemic, we are using our extra time to think more carefully about our new ventures in the country. Our vision will be built toward 2025, taking into account all the trends that are affecting the market right now and we will soon share our new strategies.

Q: What is your perspective on the evolution of shared mobility?

A: Brands were looking for shared-mobility alternatives because younger generations are not keen on buying a vehicle as their second-most important asset. Although this trend will continue, now we are taking health as a new element in the equation. People are feeling vulnerable when using public transportation. This will slow down the pace at which new mobility trends were advancing. This pause will give us time to adapt our business models to shared-mobility trends.

 

Hyundai Motor is a South Korean OEM founded in 1967. The company started selling its vehicles in Mexico in 2014 and is now the 10th-largest brand in the market with a 3.5 percent market share in 2020

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst