JIN-511 -- For quality, how about a Hyundai?

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J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends in Japan.
Issue No. 511 Tuesday June 23, 2009, Tokyo

When you think about quality, what comes to mind? Watches? Rolex.
Cars? A Porsche maybe? Well, after this week, it might be a Hyundai.
California-based consultancy JD Power released its annual survey of
automobile quality this week and Hyundai was the star performer. The
Korean car manufacturer took fourth spot behind Lexus, Porsche and
Cadillac, up nine spots from last year’s 13th place.

When the smoke clears, and consumers start buying cars again,
perception is going to be more important than ever and the latest JD
Power survey paints a changing picture of the industry.

Two examples in this Financial Times article illustrate some big
movement in the rankings – Suzuki went from 32nd to 9th spot while
Jaguar, acquired last year by India’s Tata, dropped 20 places.

The FT also reported that Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, Nissan’s
Infiniti, Pontiac and Audi also fared markedly worse in this year’s
survey. It won’t matter much for Pontiac though – General Motors will
be phasing out the division by 2010 as the company resurrects itself.

To be fair though, GM’s Pontiac G6 ranked in the top three of
mid-sized cars. Plus I’m sure there are plenty of Pontiac fans out
there so I should be careful. Actually, I’m a fan myself. I still have dreams
of driving my hydrogen-fueled 1968 Pontiac GTO down the west coast
of the US, only stopping to fill it with water which is then converted
into clean H-fuel. Fear of crashing it and creating an atomic explosion
will probably mean I’ll need to convert it to corn-based biofuel in the
meantime.

Actually, seeing as most people are flat-out buying a pre-converted
hybrid Prius, in reality, we’ll all have to shelve our plans of combining
some of the coolest cars created by man with guilt-free driving pleasure
(both from an ecological and financial point of view).

So until then, consumers will be looking elsewhere, and, as the US Big
Three limp along or are put down and resurrected as zombie shells of
their former selves, and as their Japanese counterparts reel from
blows sustained in the same markets, the challengers are emerging.

Again, according to the FT report, Hyundai’s market share grew to 4.2
percent in the first five months of this year from 2.9 percent during
the same period the previous year. And a lot of this was taken away
from Toyota and Honda.

This doesn’t mean market share is converting into huge profits though,
as the market has shrunken dramatically. I would be interested to see
how this translates in real terms. It does mean that, if Hyundai can
hold onto or even expand the market share when things pick up, they
could be in a very good position profit wise.

Hyundai was able to snap up a lot of the small to medium car sales and
this is the area where most auto-manufacturers will be concentrating
on for the foreseeable future. According to Bloomberg truck sales dropped
25 percent in 2008. This was about twice the decline in cars. According to
this particular report, US automakers were hit by about $62.4 billion in losses.

There is a sense of deja vu with Hyundai's two-fold improvements in
both market share and quality. The Japanese manufacturers of course
managed to do this decades ago and now they are generally accepted as
the standard for mid-range cars. It's going to be a real battle over
the next couple of years and the US automakers will be up against it,
- Hide quoted text -
and not just from the Japanese.

Michael Condon
Editor-in-chief

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For the first time, serial entrepreneur Terrie Lloyd brings
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The Okayama seminar, entitled 'Innovative Business Leaders
Seminar', will be held on Saturday July 25 at the Kurashiki
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On Sunday July 26, Terrie will hold his Enrepreneurs Handbook
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>From JR Sannomiya Station it's just a short 5 min walk
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For registration send mail to seminar@japaninc.com
For more information please go to:
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------------------- ICA Event - July 30 -------------------

Event: Summer Networking Party! Open to all

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2009

Time: 19:00 - 21:00 Open Bar and Finger Food Included
Cost: 1,000 yen (members), 2,500 yen (non-members)
Open to all - venue is Zest Iikura
http://www.zest-cantina.jp/en/iikura/home/location

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The Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo is a proud supporter of
NetTokyo 2009 - summer charity networking event.

2009 marks the 5th year of NetTokyo - and this year it will
be another amazing event with 500 people expected!
What is NetTokyo?
The biggest summer, Saturday afternoon, network-of-networks
charity networking event for the Japanese and international
community in Tokyo.

The core concepts of NetTokyo are:

1) Bring the members of various business groups together once
a year to help each organization and their members expand
their networks.

2) Raise money for deserving charities with each organizer
designating the charity of their choice.

3) Have a fun and casual summer afternoon party that is
family-friendly and a welcoming environment for all people.

Registration: http://www.nettokyo.jp
Date: Saturday, July 11, 2009
Time: 14:00 - 18:00
Venue: Monsoon Cafe Daikanyama
Price: 4000 yen in advance; 5000 yen at the door

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