Hyundai has been the fastest growing car company in the US over the last two years. It has matched high quality with low prices, much as Japanese manufacturers did for three decades.
The company’s website trumpets that news that its 2011 Sonata received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s selection as a “Top Safety Pick” The homepage of the car company neglects to point out that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled some 140,000 Sonata sedans in the U.S. because of a safety defect that could result in a loss of, or reduced, steering.
“Hyundai will initiate a recall of model year 2011 Hyundai Sonata vehicles produced beginning December II, 2009 through September 10, 2010.”"
And, The recall will include approximately 139,500 model year 2011 Hyundai Sonata vehicles produced beginning December 11, 2009 through September 10, 2010.”
“The steering column is connected to the steering gear assembly through an intennediate shaft. Universal joints connect the upper end of the intennediate shaft to the steering column and the lower end of the intennediate shaft to the steering gear pinion shaft. Hyundai has found eight instances from the initial production period for this new vehicle of improperly assembled or loose steering column intermediate shaft universal joint connections. Corrective actions have been implemented to ensure proper assembly oft he steering column intennediate shaft.”
The news could hardly come at a worse time. The South Korean company is about to launch its ultra-luxury Equus to compete with the top end of the Mercedes, Lexus, and BMW brands. The vehicle will sell for $50,000 to $60,000 and is meant to extend the Hyundai’s reputation for affordable luxury created by its much-awarded Genesis sedan. The introduction of the new car was also to be supported by the company’s nearly 20% improvement in American sales this year, fueled mostly by the Sonata.
Hyundai’s spotless reputation for quality just got soiled, and with it the chances for the perfect launch of the Equus.
Douglas A. McIntyre