On instagram (@LoflytKULTURE) I recently asked what it will take for potential customers to forgive Holden for what ever trespasses they have perpetrated, and judge the products on their merit. It’s an interesting question because their road to ill repute is different to that of other brands. At the turn of the century Holden where the second most trusted brand in the country.
Let’s take Hyundai for example. They have been in the country for 31 years, and are now in a position where they are the third most popular brand in the country. In fact, they are the most popular brand in Australia which doesn’t have a light commercial truck (read pick up or ute).
I have many stories about people who have sworn off the South Korean manufacturer thanks to unreliable products that have come apart in owners hands.
Most recently, however, I saw a middle aged guy looking at an i20 for sale on the side of the road.
"Nothing remarkable about that" I hear you say.
I concur, but parked next to it was his i30, a few years old but in good condition.
Is it too much to assume that he is considering the i20 for his son/daughters first car?
Of course, this isn’t limited to Hyundai. Every manufacturer needs to earn their chops. That includes a period of self-improvement which often requires a domestic product acquiring the functional demands of foreign markets.
I’ve recently spent a great deal of time behind the wheel of many South Korean products, and each one draws me a little closer to that point where I no longer regard them as a second choice.
Rather, I now have the Kia Sorento as a lead runner in my families quest to replace our much loved Holden Commodore wagon. More on that another day, but 5 years ago, they didn’t even feature as a third string option.
So what has changed to allow the Sorento a look in? Why do I consider the Elantra GT a worthy daily commuter? Why did I recommend a co-worker look at an Optima GT?
Was it marketing? Well I just searched my brain for a memorable Kia ad…. still searching……”we’re living in the back of the carrr” (nope that’s the catchy earworm Mitsubishi ad).
It must be the product then. Having driven the Sorento extensively, I can’t say it’s a match for the Commodore wagon, but as with the other Kia products, it has the basics right.
So perhaps it's not the product... well, not just the product.
The reality is that all of those things make up a brands reputation. When you back it up with a segment leading warranty, just like Hyundai (5 years) and Kia (7 years), the result is trust.
That is what the Koreans are earning, year after year.
Equally, that is what Holden has lost recently, as they allowed older generation Korean products to die on their vine/lots.
I've driven the new Astra, and it is very good. The RS has an amazing amount of technology, drives like a Holden should, delivers exceptional economy, and even manages to provide a solid amount of value despite immigrating all the way from Europe.
But that is not enough. More new product, better marketing and longer warranty, is the only way Holden is going to earn back the consumers trust, and claw their way back to the top.
Oh, and time. There are no shortcuts on the road to redemption.
See more Korean Stuff here: #KOREADRIVEN
See more of the Astra here: #INSTASTRALOGIC