13th November 2024
NEC Birmingham

Preparing for a changing automotive sector

Hyundai | Automotive Management Live Back

The automotive sector needs to adopt a blended and flexible approach to adapt to the changing retail environment, according to Tony Whitehorn, CEO at Hyundai who will be speaking at Automotive Management Live, the industry’s leading expo.

Taking place on 8 November at Birmingham’s NEC, Whitehorn joins a line-up of experts who explore how automotive retail will evolve over the next decade in its ‘Vision of the Future’ seminar.

Commented Whitehorn: “The key word for what is happening in the industry at the moment is ‘change’, the key focus should be on being as flexible as possible.”


He identifies three main considerations: 

1) technology whether that be autonomy, propulsion, telematics and connectivity

2) where will people purchase products

3) how will they purchase them


As part of its strategy to meet the future needs of drivers, Hyundai is bringing new technology to market, offering a broad range of propulsion options including, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, full electric and fuel cell electric. Having spearheaded the retail store concept opening stores at Bluewater and Stratford and launching its digital retail initiative Click to Buy online system, the brand is also looking at providing purchasing alternatives with several Fintech options currently under investigation.

Whitehorn will draw on Hyundai’s digital experiences which saw it partner Rockar to open the first omni-channel car retail experience in November 2014. This ‘clicks & bricks’ approach created a blend of digital and physical hybrid stores.

Hyundai attracted a new profile of customer with 75% of store customers having never bought a new car before and 94% of customers new to the brand.  Customers were much younger, aged 37 compared to 59 years-old and 58% of all sales were to women.


Added Whitehorn: “One of the most interesting learnings though was that 95% of customers lived within a 10-mile radius of the stores – which proved that irrespective of how the car was purchased (whether online or in store) a relationship with a local dealer was important to those customers”.   

“Our learnings have helped to shape our retail strategy and proved that a blended, flexible and transparent approach is key.  I have always said that if you want to revolutionise the retail experience you need to take the dealer network with you and that is what is at the heart of our approach moving forward”. 

“A blended approach is imperative. There will undoubtedly be a greater move towards online –selling in line with what is happening across the retail sector but whilst there will be people who are very happy to buy online, there will also be people who want to purchase in a more traditional manner”.

“In the long term, expertise within franchise dealerships will increase with greater training which will have an impact on independent repairers. The rise of electric cars will also impact service times and profitability but this won’t be felt fully until 2040. As a business, we are focussing on the continuous training of our dealership staff and we have introduced and are now rolling out our unique and industry-leading aftersales system- Hyundai Workshop Automation.”


There’s still time to register for Automotive Management Live which is shaping up to the best day retailers will spend away from their business.