Hyundai Drops The Gloves, Will Call Out Sales of 40-MPG Cars

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2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

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Just a month ago, we suggested that 40 miles per gallon is the new bragging threshold for subcompact and even compact cars.

Now, Hyundai has dropped the gloves (or thrown down the gauntlet) with a clever marketing campaign to contrast it with other makers: It will start breaking out the sales of its models rated at 40 mpg every month, and challenges the other carmakers to do the same.

"For us," said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, "leadership isn’t how many low-volume special-edition 40-mpg models we offer, but rather how many 40-mpg vehicles consumers actually buy. We’d love to see others follow our lead.”

It's all to highlight the 2011 Hyundai Elantra compact, which the EPA rates at 40 mpg highway for all of its models--unlike, say, the 2011 Chevy Cruze. There's only a single model, the 2011 Chevy Cruze Eco, that reaches the magic 40 mpg rating.

Hyundai's Save The Asterisks's

Hyundai's Save The Asterisks's

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Or as Hyundai pointedly says, "We want to emphasize ALL Elantras, not just a small slice of manual transmission models (already a small slice), get 40 mpg – no asterisks."

Which is what leads to their "Save the Asterisks!" video, below.

Going further, Hyundai says it expects to sell more 40-mpg Elantras in January than its two of its (unspecified) "key competitors" will sell during all of 2011 of their "40/42 mpg special additions" [SIC: We think Hyundai's press release meant to say 'editions'].

Although the EPA's website lets consumers sort all cars by mileage rating, this is still another clever challenge by a company that's becoming known for its marketing smarts.

Another case: Hyundai benefited mightily during the economic downturn from their Hyundai Assurance Program, which guaranteed to take back any new Hyundai bought by anyone who subsequently lost a job.

It was a big hit with consumers, and is widely credited with boosting Hyundai to double-digit sales growth. It subsequently led to "Assurance Plus", which promised to let laid-off car buyers coast on three months of payments instead of returning their vehicles altogether.

The new 2011 Elantra uses similar styling cues to the successful 2010 Hyundai Sonata midsize car, which has decisively outsold its predecessor. With strong entries in the key compact and midsize sedan segments, you might say Hyundai's on a roll--asterisks and all.

[Hyundai Motors]

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Comments (7)
  1. I am really confused, doesn't this stuff ever get fact checked by either the author or Hyundai.
    Go to click "Find and Compare Cars" then 2011, then Hyundai. The only Elantra listed is the "Elantra Touring" which gets only 30 MPG. Guess Hyundai will need that asterisk after all.
    But I nit-pick. Honestly, I think Hyundai is doing a great job providing reasonable price vehicles with a 40 MPG highway rating. It really proves that the primary advantage of vehicles like the Prius is in the city.

  2. @John Briggs: That's because the EPA has not yet issued ratings (or posted them on the site, not sure which) for the all-new 2011 Hyundai Elantra that's referred to in the article. Hyundai is just launching that car this month. The 2011 Elantra Touring (station wagon) is the single carryover model from the old line for 2011.

  3. @John Voelcker. Fair Enough, but won't they need an asterisk for that? "All 2011 Hyundai Elantra get 40 MPG Highway*" "*except for the touring package"

    I wouldn't pick on Hyundai, except if your marketing message is no asterisks, then perhaps you should check to see what is on the EPA website.
    Anyway, this is really a nit-pick. If Hyundai gets 40 MPG with a high volume vehicle that is awesome. If they can do it with an automatic, even more awesome.

  4. Perhaps Toyota should respond by reporting the number of cars that they sell with more than 40 MPG in the city. For that matter, they could report the number of cars they sell with more than 50 MPG in the city. This would show Hyundai that Toyota is in a class by themselves.

  5. Um, the Elantra gets great overall fuel mileage in a car that starts at about 15k brand new. The Toyota Prius is more than double that price. The Toyota Corolla which is the most direct competitor to the Elantra, gets lower fuel mileage producing less power in a car that looks dated in comparison.
    While Toyota's city mileage ratings for the Prius will be better than the Elantra, the Prius will be a distant second to the Nissan Leaf and by a long ways.
    For someone like me who does mostly freeway driving, the Elantra makes a lot of sense though I will likely opt for the Sonata 2.0T. If I did mostly city driving, I would go for the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt. Toyota has nothing that interests me in the least. If I had the money, I would be strongly considering the Leaf as a second car for in town driving.

  6. Great back and forth (respectfull) :). still no posting of 2011 model, any idea why?

  7. @Abe: I suspect the 2011 Elantra best results aren't yet complete. The car is not yet on sale, I believe.

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