Since the launch of the original Santa Fe in 2000, Hyundai’s SUVs have become symbolic of the company’s rise as a global automotive force. The mid-size Santa Fe and compact Tucson consistently rank as top-sellers for the brand, and top-sellers in their market segments. For consumers, the Hyundai name is now closely linked with its popular SUV offerings.
Now the Korean carmaker is preparing to write the next chapter in this long SUV success story with the two new models, the next-generation Santa Fe and the all-new Kona, due to arrive in Africa and Middle East markets during summer.
“The original Santa Fe took Hyundai in a new direction and changed the way people saw our brand,” said Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East, Mike Song. “We have achieved stunning success in a premium part of the auto market. We also played a large role in driving the growth of SUV sales worldwide, from being a niche segment to become a mainstream choice as more people saw the advantages of light SUVs and crossovers as practical family cars.
“The new fourth generation of Santa Fe will take its place at the front of the family SUV segment, with Hyundai’s distinctive combination of premium features, high quality, and outstanding value, in an extremely competitive market. The Kona takes these premium values into the sub-compact B-segment, optimized as part of a sporty and active urban lifestyle.”
The original Santa Fe was not the first Hyundai SUV. That honor belongs to the Galloper, launched in 1991, but the Santa Fe transformed Hyundai into a global leader for the segment. Already the new-generation Santa Fe is Hyundai’s top seller in South Korea, the first market to receive the new model. In Africa and the Middle East, Hyundai is aiming to repeat the stunning success of the current third-generation Tucson and the Creta.
The Tucson, which will also receive a design update to the current model this year, is considered one of the most important sales-drivers for the Hyundai brand globally. In many markets, including Europe, the Tucson is the top-selling Hyundai model. In Africa and the Middle East, the Tucson is Hyundai’s top-selling SUV, and in the Middle East more specifically it was the top-selling SUV of any brand during 2017 according to figures from the Middle East Automotive Council (MEAC).
The smaller Creta has exceeded all sales expectations in the region, offering a very strong value proposition to family buyers. The Kona will supplement the Creta in showrooms, with premium features and more fashionable design to set it apart.
“The Creta and Kona will appeal to very different customer groups, so there is room for both in our model range without them taking sales from each other,” said Mike Song. “We have already achieved something similar in the small sedan and hatchback market, where the sporty Veloster supplements our more general offerings, attracting younger, more style-conscious buyers to our brand.”
As new models establish themselves in the market, Hyundai will continue to set ever more ambitious goals for developing its SUV products. Very importantly, SUVs and crossovers will play a substantial part in the company’s plans for environmentally sustainable mobility – another area in which Hyundai is establishing itself as an industry leader.
Internationally, the Tucson is already built as a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) and was the first fuel-cell vehicle offered as a standard production model. Hyundai is following up this landmark achievement with the NEXO, the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-fueled SUV model, now on sale in Korea. This year will also see the international launch of the Kona Electric as an electric version.
“Hyundai is a company committed to the future, and to sustainability,” said Mike Song. “With innovation and technology, our SUVs are helping lead the way forward.”