International Newsmaker Q&A: Miles Johnson

Jan. 1, 2020
Miles C. Johnson is manager of product public relations for Hyundai Motor America, one of 24 global subsidiaries of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group.

Miles C. Johnson is manager of product public relations for Hyundai Motor America, one of 24 global subsidiaries of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. In 1946, founder Ju-Yung Chung established the Hyundai Auto Service in Seoul, South Korea. Kia began in 1944 as a Korean bicycle parts manufacturer; it was purchased by Hyundai in 1998.

How do you view Hyundai’s marketing and sales strategies/possibilities in light of the Toyota situation?

Hyundai has a solid sales and marketing strategy for this year and beyond based on where we are going as a company. That’s our focus.

Hyundai reportedly plans to reduce 18 platforms d own to six. Is this indeed the case? And how is the progress proceeding thus far?

We cannot comment on the exact number of platforms, but Hyundai has been working to rationalize platforms for greater efficiency.

The Credit Suisse Research Institute says that it doesn’t perceive Hyundai as aiming to become a technology leader in the global automotive industry as per your marketing philosophy. Instead it notes that you wish to “provide reliable basic products without going overboard on technology that the average car buyer may not need or want.” Do you agree with this conclusion? What are some of Hyundai’s achievements in line with this strategy?

It’s true that Hyundai will not add technology for technology’s sake – we want all of our vehicle technology to directly benefit our customers – but Hyundai is a technology leader. We have been a leader in the standard application of the most effective safety technologies, such as Electronic Stability Control. We have iPod /USB jacks and XM Satellite Radio with all audio systems. We have the first mid-size car, 2011 Sonata, to offer HD Radio and heated rear seats. 2011 Sonata also features a Bluetooth hands-free phone system standard.

The Suisse report says Hyundai plans to pursue higher-end offerings. What can we expect to see in this regard?

Hyundai successfully launched Genesis, a mid-premium vehicle, in 2008 and Genesis Coupe in 2009. Hyundai will launch a large premium sedan, Equus, in fall 2010. Although Hyundai now offers premium-class vehicles, Hyundai will not lose focus on the entry and mid-size segments.

Suisse was complimentary of your eco-friendly Blue Drive Initiative. How does the Theta II GDI engine fit into this?

The Theta-II GDI engine is extremely efficient, delivering 200 horsepower and a class-leading 35 mpg highway in the 2011 Sonata. In fall 2010, Hyundai will offer a turbo version of the Theta-II GDI engine in Sonata, with over 250 horsepower and great fuel economy.

Hyundai’s Kia division has just opened its first-ever U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga. What will be the impact of this on the American marketplace?

We cannot comment on Kia’s plant at this time.

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