– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Koreans Prove They Can Compete With Japanese In Automobile Market; Are Motorcycles Next?

About a year and a half ago, we posted a short article speculating that Korean motorcycle manufacturers would eventually start to make the same sort of attack on the motorcycle market that they have made on the U.S. car market. While we have seen relatively little evidence of this to date, we still believe that it will be coming eventually.

Meanwhile, in the automotive sector, Hyundai and Kia (owned by Hyundai) continue to increase their sales at the expense of both domestic and Japanese competition. In fact, according to, Hyundai sold 17% more vehicles in May 2005 than it did in May 2004, while Kia saw a 16% sales increase for those same months.

These Korean companies originally lured customers mainly with ultra-low prices, but in recent years they have been able to increase the quality of their products to a near parity with competing Japanese models, while retaining their lower prices.

In fact, early reviews of the 2006 Hyundai Sonata (a competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry) are overwhelmingly positive, with saying “The 2006 Sonata may be the first Hyundai we can recommend without qualifiers like ‘for the price’…..It may sound like blasphemy but Camry and Accord shoppers now have one more stop to make at the local auto mall before deciding on a midsize sedan.” A review on expressed similar sentiments, saying “Although it may be hard to pass by the Honda and Toyota dealer–the Accord and Camry combined account for almost two thirds of the mid-size sedan segment–keep moving down the block; you’ll be glad you did. Especially when you drive out of the Hyundai dealership in a new Sonata with all that change jingling in your pocket.”

Hyundai has also opened a $1 billion manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama, which it claims will provide 6,000 jobs statewide (plant employees + suppliers). The new Sonata will be produced at this plant.

Will readers see the day when Motorcycle Daily recommends a Korean bike over its Japanese competitors? We think so, and we think this will be a good thing. Affordable, reliable motorcycles can only serve to pull more potential motorcyclists into dealers. In addition, if the Korean manufacturers can provide competitive machinery at lower costs, it will force the existing manufacturers to either reduce prices or increase value (ie build better bikes for the same price), which can only benefit us as consumers.

Feel free to email me with your thoughts on this subject.

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