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from Expert Zone:

Hyundai makes a grand move with the Grand i10

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In 1947, when India won freedom from British rule, an enterprising young man in South Korea was realizing a dream that was to become a global phenomenon. Chung Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai group, set up a construction company at 32 and two decades later, the Hyundai Motor Company was born.

Today, together with Kia, Hyundai Motor Group is the world’s fourth largest carmaker based on annual vehicle sales. While the world was reeling under recession, Hyundai made an impact in markets such as Europe and the United States by offering quality products at reasonable prices vis-à-vis more established automakers. This helped the South Korean giant become a household name.

In the early 1980s, when Maruti was setting up operations, the Indian buyer didn’t have much to choose from. The automobile market comprised a handful of players like Hindustan Motors with cars such as the Ambassador and Contessa. There was also the odd Standard 2000, but that didn’t quite stir up the motoring scene in India.

from Global Investing:

Route 312 – China’s Route 66

The world's largest car market, China, with a population of 1.3 billion people and an emerging middle class, holds great potential for investors and consumers alike with annual growth rates in the auto sector expected to hold at around 23 percent to 2017, according to Alliance Bernstein Asset Managers.

Joint ventures (JV), the most popular structure for foreign firms investing in the automobile sector in the world's largest car market, are set to capitalise on a growing consumer base in a country with 3.3 million kilometres of asphalt. Traversing the so-called 'mother' road 312 (China's route 66) is becoming more of an attainable dream for the Chinese consumer.

from Global Investing:

Hyundai hits a roadbump

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The issue of the falling yen is focusing many minds these days, nowhere more than in South Korea where exporters of goods such as cars and electronics often compete closely with their Japanese counterparts. These companies got a powerful reminder today of the danger in which they stand -- quarterly profits from Hyundai fell sharply in the last quarter of 2012.  (See here to read what we wrote about this topic last week)

Korea's won currency has been strong against the dollar too, gaining 8 percent to the greenback last year. In the meantime the yen fell 16 percent against the dollar in 2012 and is expected to weaken further. Analysts at Morgan Stanley pointed out in a recent note that since June 2012, Korean stocks have underperformed Japan, corresponding to the yen's 22 percent depreciation in this period. Their graphic below shows that the biggest underperformers were consumer discretionary stocks (a category which includes auto and electronics manufacturers). Incidentally, Hyundai along with Samsung, makes up a fifth of the Seoul market's capitalisation.

from David Cay Johnston:

The troubled trade deal with South Korea

SEOUL -- In March, the United States and South Korea implemented a Free Trade Agreement that President Barack Obama touts as more significant than the last nine such agreements combined. He also said it was central to his goal of doubling American exports within five years.

I think the president suffers from irrational trade exuberance, a view reinforced by my reporting in this city of 10 million people.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 31 October 2010

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In terms of the Ring of Fire, Indonesia had just been too quiet. Warnings that Mount Merapi, which towers above the outskirts of Yogyakarta city on Java island, was about to erupt, were heeded by some and ignored by many. On Monday, a 7.5 magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that hit the remote western Mentawai islands killing at least 343.  A day later, Mount Merapi erupted, killing at least 34.  It took almost three days for Jakarta based photographer Crack Palinggi to reach the scene of the devastation caused by the tsunami. Beawiharta was quicker to scene of the volcano; needless to say it's always worth standing well back when people are evacuating from an erupting volcano.  Bea's picture screams panic, heat and noise of those fleeing as hot ash falls to earth, the drama amplified by the flash blur technique used.  It is in complete contrast to the picture taken a day later of sombre near silence as rescue workers crunch through the muffled ashen landscape like newly fallen snow.

INDONESIA-VOLCANO/

 A woman covers her baby as she runs from ash falling from an erupting volcano at Kaliurang village in Sleman, near Indonesia's ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. Mount Merapi erupted on Tuesday, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes, witnesses said.  REUTERS/Beawiharta

from Shop Talk:

Auto show-Super Bowl TV ads don’t score for Mazda

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nfl1Advertising during the Super Bowl doesn't score for Mazda.

While the Japanese automaker plans to boost its marketing budget this year as it launches the Mazda 2 small car, running TV ads during the National Football League's championship game in February won't happen.

"You're never going to see us on Super Bowl," Mazda North American chief Jim O'Sullivan said at the Detroit auto show. "We're not going to spend that kind of money on that kind of property because, yeah, you get a lot of impressions and stuff out there, but the fact of the matter is, do you really get to the target you really wanted? That's more of a feel-good ad for a lot of people."

from Shop Talk:

Auto show-Consumer Reports analyst talks Toyota, other issues

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toyota1Consumer Reports magazine's senior director for automotive testing, Dave Champion, sat down with correspondents Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman at the Detroit auto show to discuss the U.S. auto industry, including Toyota's future, the changing nature of the show, small cars and Chrysler.

About Toyota:

"Toyota's grown incredibly quickly; not only in the number of vehicles that they sell but also in the number of vehicles that they produce. They have a range of vehicles now that's extremely wide. What Toyota used to have was a great attention to detail on every single part that went into the car and a real focus, very tightly, on the product. Now, with so many different variants and iterations and models, it was very difficult to keep that same focus and that same attention to detail on all the products."

from Shop Talk:

Auto show-J.D. Power analyst opines on U.S. market

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cattle1J.D. Power and Associates analyst Jeff Schuster met with Reuters TV and text reporters at the Detroit auto show to discuss the U.S. auto market, including the changing nature of the show and 2010 demand.

About the subdued nature of this year's show:

"If you look around this show, the message here really is an industry getting back to business. They're obviously here to sell cars."

from DealZone:

DealZone Daily

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Sigh of relief for Cadbury? Hershey and Ferrero may join forces to launch a rival bid for Kraft's offer for the British confectioner, a source tells us. On a rather much smaller scale, Cosmo Pharmaceuticals plans to buy rival BioXell for around $40 million, it says. For these and all other Reuters stories on deals, click here.

Plus a look at other media (some links may require subscription):

Hyundai Motor Co is planning to sell off its stake in affiliate Hyundai Mobis Co in a block trade to comply with antitrust rules, according to online media provider eDaily.

from Raw Japan:

Car Wars: Hyundai climbs with Toyota’s model

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HYUNDAI/

As a child in the early '80s, I remember spending a summer in Seoul and taking a trip with relatives to the countryside in a Hyundai Pony, South Korea's first homegrown car. I spoke no Korean, but learned one word quickly enough: "lemon".

Hyundai Motor has certainly come a long way since then.

Thirty-four years after introducing the Pony hatchback at the Turin Motor Show, Hyundai is the world's fourth-largest carmaker, surpassing Ford Motor in the first half of this year. With the rest of the industry reeling from slumping sales, Hyundai's charge has been especially conspicuous this year as it grabbed market share across the world and even made record profits in the latest quarter.

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