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Australia 1986: Hyundai lands, “posing very little threat”

First Hyundai advert Australia April 1986The very first press advertisement for Hyundai in Australia – Car Australia April 1986. Notice the phonetic pronunciation displayed below the brand name (Hi-Un-Di). 

* See the Top 15 brands and Top 20 models by clicking on the title *

The Australian new car market hits a brick wall in 1986, impacted by a doubling of taxes imposed by the government: down 24% year-on-year to 530.251 registrations, it falls to its lowest level in 14 years. Ford takes advantage of the situation and gains almost 3 percent market share to 27.1% thanks to sales down ‘just’ 16%, followed by Toyota (-19%) and Holden (-27%). Nissan (-33%), Daihatsu (-40%), Suzuki (-41%), Mazda (-43%) and Subaru (-54%) fall apart. The Ford Falcon posts a 5th consecutive year at #1, hiking its share up to 12.1%, followed by the Holden Commodore up to 10.3%.

Nissan Pintara Australia 1986Launched in August, the Nissan Pintara is up to #7 in December.

The Ford Laser remains third but is now threatened by the Mitsubishi Magna up 14% to 30.540 sales at #4 for its first full year in market. The Toyota Corolla is also up 1% to #5, even ranking #3 in November below just the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Nissan launches the Pintara sedan to compete with the Falcon/Commodore/Magna trio to a warm reception: just outside the Top 10 for the year and #7 in December. Note the Holden Commodore topped the monthly ranking in April for the first time since 1982, edging the Falcon by just 3 units (5.829 vs. 5.826).

Car Australia 1986 teaserCar Australia April 1986. Full article below the jump.

But the big news of 1986 is the arrival of Korean manufacturers in Australia, namely Hyundai. Helped by aggressive pricing (the only new car in Australia priced below $10.000), the Hyundai Excel appears in the Top 15 as early as November for its 4th month of sales at #14 with 411 units, staying at #14 (422) in December also and ending the year with 1.756 sales. Sales started in August (116) and kept increasing onwards: 184 in September and 284 in November.

Car Australia 1987 teaserCar Australia February 1987. Full article below the jump.

The media coverage of the Hyundai launch in Australia is fascinating to observe with the hindsight of almost 30 years of presence in the country. In April 1986, Car Australia’s John Mellor sees Hyundai “posing very little threat to any existing cars” because of its $10,000 starting price. Consumers had hoped the Excel would be priced similarly to Canada where it goes for $5,000 and has almost instantly become the #1 import there. The same author does a complete turnaround when sales figures start to tickle down, declaring in February 1987: “You are currently seeing the Korean equivalent of the Toyota Tiara of 20 years ago. Stand by for the Korean invasion.” That’s more like it…

Full Hyundai articles, Full Year 1986 Top 15 brands & Top 20 models vs. 1985 figures below.

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