Joshua Dowling July 26, 2012
The dealer that sold the first Hyundai here also sold the millionth.
The one millionth Hyundai has been sold in Australia – by the same dealership that retailed the first Hyundai locally in early 1986.
The sale of a brand-new ix35 SUV was processed at Hyundai head office at 5.01pm last night (Wednesday 25 July), having been delivered by John Hughes Hyundai in Perth earlier in the day to a private buyer.
Hyundai Australia marketing director Oliver Mann told Drive it was a “genuine co-incidence”.
“It was a genuine co-incidence [that John Hughes Hyundai in Perth sold the first and the one-millionth car] but the odds were tilted in his favour,” says Mann. “John Hughes has been our biggest dealer nationally since the brand was established in Australia in 1986.”
It took Hyundai 18 years to sell its first half-a-million cars in Australia, and just 8 years to sell the second half-a-million.
Hughes’ dealership alone sold more than 5000 new Hyundais last year – about as many new cars as Land Rover, Peugeot and Volvo each sold nationally – and more than the combined totals of the next three top-selling Hyundai dealers.
Hyundai says it didn’t pop any champagne corks last night and instead will celebrate its milestone at an event tomorrow (Friday).
Hughes was unaware of the milestone until Drive phoned him.
“Really, how would they know?” he asked. One of his deliveries yesterday was the one millionth processed by Hyundai sales department last night. “Oh well, that’s a beauty.”
Hughes started the Hyundai franchise in Australia when a motorbody builder, Danny Fisher, saw potential in the cheap South Korean cars.
“Danny knew nothing about selling cars but he saw an opportunity,” Hughes says. “He knocked on the doors of people in the top end of town in Perth and no-one wanted to know him. He finally knocked on the door of Alan Bond who said, ‘if you get John Hughes involved, I’m in’.
“So Danny came to me and away we went.”
Alan Bond initially had a 50 per cent stake in the company, and Hughes and Fisher each had a 25 per cent share.
The business grew quickly and was taken over by a national distributor in the early 1990s, before Hyundai set up its own subsidiary locally in 2003.
“We had great difficulty in getting dealers at first, and very few of the original dealers are still going,” he says.
“In the early days nobody knew how to pronounce the name Hyundai. So we showed a bunch of cab drivers the name and asked them how they would pronounce it, and we came up with ‘High-un-die’ and the ‘Say hi to Hyundai campaign’.”
It turned out, however, that particular pronunciation was incorrect and Hyundai has since spent millions on advertising “hee-un-day” to correct Australians.
Australian Hyundai pioneer Fisher, a keen racer, was killed in a motorcycle crash several years ago, Hughes said.
Hughes, a car dealer for 43 years, said the secret to his success was “a passion for the product, and aggressive marketing”.
Meanwhile, Hughes, who owns franchises for a number of car brands, is also taking a punt on the next emerging ‘Hyundai’.
Hughes is the sole Australian distributor for the Chinese brand Geely (which bought Volvo two years ago), which is yet to be sold in the Eastern states.
As reported by Drive earlier, Holden sold its 1 millionth car in Australia – an EJ sedan – in October 1962, 14 years after General Motors established the Holden brand. To date, Holden has sold more than 7 million cars.
Toyota, market leader in Australia for the past nine years, sold its 1 millionth car in Australia (a Toyota Corolla) in 1987 – more than three decades after the first Toyota was sold locally.
Toyota has sold 5,542,804 vehicles in Australia to end of June 2012, and will likely sell its 6 millionth in 2014.
Ford sold its 1 millionth car in Australia in 1967, but does not readily have available its total sales tally to date.