* Ramp-up in business for 2014 being discussed-COO
* Hyundai sees hope for market next year
* European rivals tightening belts amid market slump
By Henry Foy
GENEVA, March 6 Hyundai Motor Co is
considering bigger investment in Europe despite a bleak demand
outlook, a senior executive said on Wednesday, considering a
sales push next year to boost market share as rivals tighten
Hyundai has doubled its share of Europe's car market over
the past five years, but now faces an industry-wide slowdown in
Yet as rivals look to cut back operations in response, the
South Korean carmaker sees an opportunity.
"Yesterday we were talking about whether we should take a
breather or not," Allan Rushforth, chief operating officer of
Hyundai Europe, told Reuters.
"What we're considering is whether to start to put our foot
down again and take advantage of the lower cost of assets,
better return on investment from brand development in Europe,"
Rushforth said in an interview at the Geneva Motor Show.
"The question is, do we continue to consolidate or do we
invest faster? Not (invest) further, because we have an
investment plan for Europe," said Rushforth. "It's about
Car sales fell to a 17 year low in Europe last year, and
many carmakers see a gloomy economic outlook and the impact of
austerity measures taken by European governments lengthening the
slowdown for years.
"The die for this year is pretty much cast," said Rushforth.
"But I think 2014 could possibly be the first year of recovery
in the European car market."
Hyundai has outpaced industry sales growth over the past
five years, taking market share from established European
players such as Renault SA and Ford.
The company has recently pared back its global sales growth
to focus more on improving its brand image, especially in
"We would like to get to five percent market share (in
Europe)... by the end of the decade," Rushforth added. Hyundai's
European market share stood at 3.6 percent last year, double its
level in 2008.