Transforming Adversity Into Opportunity: HyundaiBy Jorge Ramos Zwanziger | Thu, 03/25/2021 - 18:22
Good leadership in times of crisis is what allows companies to make the most out of difficult situations. Claudia Márquez, President and CEO of Hyundai Motors Mexico, recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Leading Women in North America’s automotive industry, has worked in the automotive industry for 25 years. During her presentation titled “How the Pandemic Transformed a Conservative Management Industry Into an Adaptability-Oriented One,” she discussed the ways in which Hyundai adapted in the midst of a harsh pandemic.
“The industry suffered a 28 percent loss,” Márquez stated on Thursday, March 25 at Mexico Automotive Summit. She recounted the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and said that “if the Mexican economy were to recover by 3.6 percent in 2021, domestic light vehicle sales would be expected to grow by 11.2 percent to around 1.05 million units.” These levels are similar to what the industry reported in 2013.
What Did Hyundai Do to Overcome the Pandemic?
Márquez mentioned that to Hyundai Motors, people are always first, so the focus was on finding ways to take care of the well-being of employees, distributors, clients and communities. She mentions how the company wanted employees to feel calm during the pandemic, to find ways for them to keep operating while keeping everyone safe. “The team was very happy that we were able to adapt to this new, unprecedented reality. After realizing how things were going, we looked for ways in which we could support communities. Our intention was to support communities through a social media campaign,” she shared. Hyundai created a social media campaign in Mexico called #YoCedo, which was a way for people to collaborate and help COVID-19 patients, as well as hospital staff after long working hours.
Hyundai wanted to transform diversity into opportunities. One of the main ways the company has looked to make contact with customers was via digital platforms, to not compromise the health and well-being of clients. The company also created ways for customers to make pre-purchases online so they feel safer during the car purchasing process. Another solution was the creation of a pickup-and-delivery service to eliminate any form of anxiety stemming from potential risks. “We have reduced the time of all processes. We went through the digitalization of all processes but it is something we were able to do well. We wanted to streamline procedures,” Márquez said.
The company also had to adjust to new working methods. “There is fear and nervousness when it comes to new ways of living and working. We have reconditioned the home office so workers can operate in the best way possible. People may be home but we cannot stop thinking about their emotional well-being,” Claudia Márquez assured. The company also reconditioned its offices to be ready for when it is possible to come back.
“The human part is something that cannot be left out. The crisis brought out this sense of warmth and human value. We go back to the most basic things: health, feeling and well-being,” she said. Márquez also applauded the way people are working today in the company, considering it something positive that stemmed from the health crisis. She also explained that Hyundai has looked for ways to work in a more agile and dynamic team environment, which is more enjoyable and creates better adaptability and resilience within the company. “Despite the pandemic, we are more vital, strong, agile, digital and human.”
What to Expect in the Future?
Márquez talked about the trends seen in the last few years in different markets. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way people move, creating new mobility channels that are safer and guarantee proper social distancing. Patterns in consumption are also changing, she points out, particularly among young people. “Younger generations have changed their purchasing preferences when it comes to the acquisition of a personal vehicle. When my parents were younger and even when I was younger, the second most important purchase after an apartment or a house was a vehicle. Young people nowadays do not want to buy a vehicle,” Márquez shared. There are whole new structures and young people would rather take advantage of something that generates less commitment, such as the option to rent a car instead of buying it.
She also mentions how important hybrid and electric vehicles have become globally. At Hyundai, there is a commitment to design and offer better quality vehicles through a wide range of options. “The expectation for 2025 is to reach the 1-millionth-vehicle milestone in terms of sales.” Hyundai already has an electric model called IONIQ, which is already being sold in other countries. In Mexico, however, she mentioned that the strategy is to analyze when the right moment comes to sell electric vehicles in the country, mostly due to the lack of infrastructure in many parts of the country. She also mentioned that electric vehicles tend to have much higher production costs, which leads to a much higher price, although she understands why these options are demanded and valued by people so much nowadays.
The company has also worked on the release of newer models. She gives the example of Tucson, a model the company released almost four weeks ago. “We want to focus on the specific models that our clients are looking for. We want to increase sales to compensate for last year's sharp decline,” she said.