Kia And Hyundai Are Very Good At This Carmaking Thing


Good morning! Today we’re talking about Kia and Hyundai sales, fiery Chrysler batteries, Geely buying everything, and stunt drivers. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Kia/Hyundai Kicking Ass And Chewing Bubble Gum And Reportedly Bereft Of Chewing Material

ElantranIt’s hard to look at anyone’s sales and assume much right now. There’s such a dearth of product and such an abundance of supply chain issues that the most meaningful statistic one can draw is that, hey, maybe this company knows how to make cars and is geographically/logistically well equipped to do so?

Even so, Hyundai and Kia are strongly on the upswing in way that’s probably more meaningful than that. Their cars are, for lack of a better term: Good. Some are even better than good, like the Hyundai Tucson Plug-In. Countless keystrokes have documented the reasons why, going all the way back to the strategic devaluation of South Korea’s currency all the way through hiring only the best Europeans.

In September, Hyundai jumped 11% year-over-year to nearly 60,000 deliveries while Kia saw an increase of 6.5% to hair over 56,000, which is a September record for the automaker. Even Genesis was up 0.8%. In addition to having cars and having cars that people want, the company is also probably making money.

Why? Here’s a little tidbit from Automotive News:

The company has prioritized retail deliveries to maximize profits and leverage tight new car and light-truck stockpiles, forgoing fleet business nine consecutive months now.

This maybe goes some way to explaining why every car you rent seems like it’s about to explode. It also shows a company that’s quite smart and seemingly flexible enough to respond to the market. At every level, Hyundai and Kia seem to be excelling.

Geely Buys Part Of Aston Martin

Aston Martin LogoGeely would like to own Aston Martin. All of Aston Martin. In fact, Geely seems hell bent on owning just about everything. But if you can’t own all of a car company, 7.6% ain’t half bad, which is what Geely’s ended up with.

If you feel like Geely has its hands in everything it’s because Geely seems to have its hands in everything. Curiously, Geely does not get a board seat but Kristen Korosec over at TechCrunch does a good job of breaking down the moving pieces and explaining why it probably doesn’t matter:

Geely, which owns Lotus and is the largest shareholder of Polestar and Volvo Cars, took a 10% stake valued at $9 billion in Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler in 2018. Geely didn’t have a board seat either, but managed to exert its influence over the company, including a joint venture with the German automaker that gave it partial control of the Smart car brand.

To make things even more exciting, Aston managed to grab another $732 million from Mercedes-Benz and the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

Not A Good Look LG

PacifcahybridGood news for owners of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids built in 2017 and 2018, Stellantis doesn’t yet know why more than 12 of these cars have caught on fire, but they know how to stop that from happening again. Per The Detroit News:

Stellantis is directing its dealers to update the software of the high-voltage battery pack control module to monitor the status of the battery pack for conditions that could lead to a fire. Dealers also will inspect and replace, if necessary, the battery pack. The estimated repair time is 1½ to two days and there is no cost to vehicle owners, who will receive alternative transportation while the vehicle is serviced.

And who made that battery pack? LG Energy Solutions, of course. You may remember those batteries from the time that Chevy had to recall every single Bolt and Bolt EUV.

Go Read About Sera Trimble

SerasraYou may not know who Sera Trimble is, but you’ve definitely seen here work. From Kia Hamster to Subaru dog to that awesome backward driving in “Licorice Pizza” she is everywhere. She’s also a delightful person singled out by our old pal Hannah Elliott for this profile. Here’s a highlight where she explains why she drives her Fiesta ST to set and not one of her Porsches:

What you drive to set in Hollywood is kind of a flex.

That was why I didn’t feel comfortable in the Cayman. If you show up and the producer is driving an Audi S4, which they were 10 years ago, and I’m pulling up in a sports car, it’s just like, “Uh-oh, maybe we pay the drivers too much.”

I’m just not that person. Granted there is the exact opposite of me in the industry. Mr. Drives His Ferrari to Work Every Day.

Friends writing about friends! What a great way to start the week.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Let’s talk about friendship: Who is your best car friend? Who do you call when you’ve got a weird/bad idea? It’s important to have car buddies. I have too many car buddies, which is why I make so many weird/bad choices.

Photos: Hyundai, Kia, Newspress, Stellantis, and Instagram

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35 Responses

  1. I have no “buds” who are into cars. My best friend thinks his 2004 V6 Charger is a sports car. My 2nd best friend is into RV’s and pick-ups. Actually the car scene in Southeast Kansas isn’t conducive to being a well balanced gearhead. Curse the luck.

    1. Sure isn’t! I remember a cell phone in I want to say 99 that I was told not to charge because it could go poof. Then it happened again a few years later if I remember correctly. I haven’t touched an LG product since. Lucky Goldstar my ass!

  2. Flush: My car buddies range widely and across many diverse landscapes. I have the import owners, the weird import owners, the guy that wants to LS swap everything, the guy that knows everything you could want to know about loooooooooong Cadillacs with monstrously huge engines, the one that meticulously restores everything, the guy that’s been building one car for longer than I’ve been earning any sort of paycheck, and everyone in between.

    My enablers though, they are beautiful creatures that see the world through fey eyes, thinking nothing of putting a liter-bike engine into a Karmann Ghia, or swapping the suspension and running gear of a ’60s Corvette for a third generation Supra. Under budget, on time, and delightfully and exceptionally strange their creations are. My designs aren’t as weird, but they’re getting there.

  3. The KIA is easy to steal so maybe that is why the upswing in sales? Need to replace it.

    Car buddies, I have a couple of former coworkers I run stuff buy. One of them will do minor work for beer and cigars. Tell him the problem, takes a look, comes up a parts list, drop off car/parts/beer/cigars, and magically the car is fixed.

  4. Hyundai and Kia make amazing cars these days and the badge snobs who still have the “durr it’s still a Hyundai” attitude are doing themselves a disservice by not considering their products. If you’re an enthusiast do yourself a favor and drive an N if you haven’t already. My Kona N is easily my favorite car I’ve ever owned and it’s an amazing one car solution for the frugal enthusiast.

    The Elantra N is also killer. I think it drives slightly better than the Kona N but the overall package wasn’t as useful for my needs. Plus, despite how good the N DCT is (it runs laps around VW’s DSG, which in and of itself is a great gearbox), the Elantra N and Veloster N (while it’s still alive) can also be had in stick.

    That being said, their SUVs are also amazing. The Telluride and Palisade punch way above their weight, and the Genesis products are striking in person. Plus, they’ve got all the hot EVs right now. Hyundai/Kia/Genesis are killing it and have proven worthy of enthusiast attention.

    I really relate to Sera’s approach here. I think it’s a valuable lesson. My dad is uber successful (this isn’t meant to be a flex-his money isn’t my money) and has run his own company for years. He could afford to drive a damn McLaren if he really wanted to, but he rolls up to work in a Grand Cherokee. As a car nut I’ve naturally questioned why he won’t buy himself something nicer, and he says he’d like to but it “sends the wrong message”. Before Cherokees he drove an assortment of Volvos, with the biggest flexes he’s ever had being certified Audis.

    I thought it was ridiculous for a long time, but ultimately decided that he’s right. People talk, and people make assumptions. What you’re driving sends a message. If you want everyone to think you’re wealthy/successful/etc that’s fine and you can go with whatever status symbol you’d like….but if staying humble is your goal and you don’t want people making assumptions about your finances, it helps to drive accordingly. This is one of the reasons for my “a fully spec’d regular car is better than a base luxury one” takes…and yet another reason I love my Kona N. I’m probably in the top 10% of earners where I work, but why would I want people knowing that? It’s not my style. Normies don’t have any idea what a Kona N is.

    My best car bud is a frequenter of the orange site and I think he pops up here periodically. You know who you are, amigo. The name of our game is automotive shitposting, but we also do a good job of balancing out each other’s most reckless car desires. I’m grateful for some of the potential purchases that he’s talked me out of…and I’m sure he’d say the same of me.

    1. Hyundai/KIA still have oil consumptions issues to this day. Further, their particular adoption of GDI without good oil control at the valve seals has resulted in clogged intake valves that require removal of cylinder heads to clean up. I don’t feel like they’ve gotten this under control.

      Further, Hyundai/KIA seem to be at least 10 years behind the rest of the market when it comes to corrosion control. They aren’t standing up to rust as well as even GM, Ford and Chrysler, who aren’t exactly the best, excepting the newer F-150. They’re nowhere near as rot-free as Toyota, Honda and European makes.

      Hyundai and KIA are CRUSHING it when designing appealing new cars. As “Certified Pre-Owned” they’re still nice things. But in the used market, once they have some miles on them, I still consider them a HARD PASS, no thanks, K BYE.

      1. We’ll have to wait and see how what they’re currently putting out there holds up long term but I’d have to agree that longevity remains a concern. Naturally I’ll keep you all posted on the Kona N…although I will say that my MK7.5 GTI had already had several problems in the amount of time I’ve owned the Kona for.

        …baby steps, I suppose ????

    2. I always said, you don’t want the preacher at a church driving a better car than the majority of the parishioners. After all, he is generally supported by said parishioners tithes, and it would leave them wondering if they are squandering said tithes.

    1. Hahaha. My wife is decidedly NOT a car person, but she is an enabler of my addiction. Just this summer, I asked if she wanted to come look at an MGB with me. She replied “you will buy it whether I go or not so I might as well just do some work around the house”. So I took an old British guy I know, and bought the MG.

  5. Does anyone else see a problem with Chinese companies (who have strong ties to the CCP, by definition) buying up everything in sight? If this keeps up we’re going to wake up one day and find China has conquered the world, not by war, but by buying it with money we’ve given or lent them.

    1. This is exactly the panic everyone had about Japanese companies in the 80s/90s. It’s probably not worth losing sleep over, and not something you can meaningfully do anything about anyway.

      I do have definite qualms about their human rights and environmental records, and seeing the Saudi or Qatari or whatever sovereign investment fund get involved in anything squicks me out for similar reasons. However, as an American, our house is also pretty well glazed, and given how much we like throwing our weight around overseas, I can’t really get mad at other countries for wanting to do the same.

      1. There’s a big difference between Japan and China. Japan is a democracy (as much as any country is these days) and has a decent record on human rights (again, as much as any country can these days). China is a de facto dictatorship and doesn’t seem to believe in human rights.
        The difference between the U.S. and China throwing their weight around is that the Chinese are good at it. With the U.S. declining (lots of predictions of a civil war) and Europe in chaos, there’s a power vacuum the Chinese are happy to exploit.
        I’m sitting in Canada, relatively isolated from all of this (but our economy is suffering like everyone else) and our government still wants to play nice, not realizing the end result could be loss of sovereignty.

        1. Another difference between Japan and China is cultural – the Japanese culturally (generally) strive for a long term sales relationship and try to provide quality products in hopes of continuing and expanding that relationship.

          I think it is fair to say that the Chinese cultural approach towards quality and customer retention is….different.

          “Taking into consideration existing mature quality evaluation models (particularly the methods of evaluating customer satisfaction) and China’s unique national conditions during its economic transition, four dimensions are proposed to evaluate quality in China: consumer satisfaction with quality, product safety, government regulations on quality, and citizen’s concept of quality. Based on empirical investigation data in this framework, the overall evaluation of quality in China is summarized as quality in China has just reached a general standard, product safety remains steady as a whole, government quality regulations are ineffective, and Chinese citizens’ concept of quality is poor. “

          1. Given how much of *everything* is already produced in China, I don’t think it’s accurate to say they’re not concerned with quality. They produce both high and low quality items and western firms happily slap logos on stuff from both. There was a long period where Japanese and Korean goods were denigrate as inferior before they became world class as well.

            Whatever, I want human rights and the environment to both be respected. Democracies aren’t automatically 100% good at either, despite what we like to tell ourselves. I’d much rather live in a democracy than under an official one party system, but it’s naive and wrong to say it’s all good here and all bad there

    2. I understand your concern. China is an absolute rising economic superpower. Many forecasts show their GDP to exceed the US (over $30 trillion) by the end of the decade. No other country or economic block is even in the realm. It is their sheer force of scale.

      The question is what can the rest of the world (US included) do about it? Not much. We will have to learn to merge with them instead of limit or control China. In the same way that the rest of the world had to learn to merge with the dominant US economic force after WWII.

      In fact, your assumption that they are growing because of “money we’ve given or lent them” is misguided. Our economy is already so extremely intertwined with China’s that they cannot be separated. For instance, cell phones, microchips, rare earth metals, basic manufacturing of every tiny component and even the common button. One city in China makes over 60% of all buttons in the world. We just ain’t going back to the economy of 1997 no matter what fear American politicians spew out.

      1. My TikToker cleaned all the garbage out of the car (first time the interior has been clean in years), left a couple of sealed packages of Mexican candy under the seat, and left the car parked a few blocks away.

        Of course, it’s been in the shop for a month waiting for a new ignition lock. Kia can’t seem to keep that part in stock.

    3. If we are speaking specifically about Aston Martin, I have no problem with the Chinese and Saudi dictators flushing their money down the toilet.

      Well, I guess it’s their people’s money, but it’s already stolen anyway.

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