Monthly Archives: December 2012

Market performance

The two companies are in opposite situations at the moment; Hyundai is an up and coming with a lot of promises in their future, whereas Peugeot are financially struggling.

Hyundai enjoyed a second place in profit margin at 11.4%, a mere 0.2% less than BMW, with Kia coming third at 9.6%. Hyundai’s business is booming thanks to the anti-Japan protests in China, where we saw a sudden decrease in interest of Japanese vehicles in China due to the China-Japan island dispute, and the increase in sales of i10 in Europe.

Meanwhile, Peugeot has been struggling with business in 2012. They have had a decrease in sales for five consecutive years and are not expecting sales in Europe to pick up any time soon. The French government, who initially did not have any shares in Peugeot, have invested $807 million in an attempt to protect the company and job loses.

Peugeot’s main strength at the moment is their well established and iconic design of their hatchback vehicles, and the French Government has also got the company’s back. Their main weakness right now is their lack of reputation and media attention outside of Europe. According to their sales figure, more than 60% of their car sales in 2012 are  from Europe, in a market where they are struggling with.


Their main objects right now is to focus on breaking into the Chinese market and developing their sedan cars, which is the main interests amongst Chinese customers. They are too focused on developing hatchbacks, which is only popular in Europe. The 508 is the only sedan they manufacturer, which again, is primarily sold in Europe, but it doesn’t have any clear advantages over its competitors. Practicality wise it’s not as good as the likes of Ford Mondeo, design wise it’s not as stylish as Audi A4, and reputation wise it’s not as flashy as BMW 3 series. Yes, their new Peugeot Onyx concept is super hot, and was one of the highlights at the Paris Motor Show, but will there be people looking for a hybrid super car?

009-peugeot-onyx-concept-opt (1)

Hyundai is currently in a good position; they are attracting a lot of attention and have a good sense of direction with their transition into a luxury brand. Their main weakness at the moment is their competitor’s strength. BMW, Mercedes and Audi have all got a well established reputation, a long history of quality cars and are offering a wide range of options to choose from. If Hyundai wants to compete in this segment, their only option is to excel in what they have to offer. People who are considering buying a BMW will not be stingy with their money and go for a cheaper alternative. They need to provide something to make consumers think twice before buying. They need to be able to offer better services, maintenance, in-car features and superior design quality to win the heart of people who are after a luxury experience.




Peugeot design language and history

As a car manufacturer that has been in existence even before automobiles were invented, Peugeot has a long design history.

Looking back all the way to Peugeot’s first vehicle, the Serpollet Tricycle; it was simply a horse carriage redesigned to fit a steam powered engine. This was because horse carriages was the main method of transport back in late 19th century. It was not an established market for people to invest their time into designing what this sort of vehicle should look like.


In my opinions, it was until 1938 with the 202 that Peugeot got rid of the “horseless carriage” design element in their vehicles. It marked the early 20th century style of Peugeot car design.


This style continued up until 1955, when Peugeot got hold of Pininfarina, the masters of automotive styling, to design their new 403 range. They introduced the three-box styling to the 403, which is commonly refer to as a sedan or coupe in modern terms.


Pininfarina continued to help peugeot define the styling of their vehicles and helped the Peugeot 404 convertible become one of Peugeot’s classic and landmark vehicles.


With the Peugeot Lion logo redesigned in 1980, we also saw changes in the styling of Peugeot vehicles. The first design continuity was introduced with the badge sink positioned in the center of the grill, which can subsequently be seen on vehicles such as the 309 and 106. Peugeot also only used square head lights with their 80s-90s vehicles and this design was kept up until the retirement of the 205.


The 206 had a radical change in design; it was a big facelift from the 205 and I think its styling was one that is ahead of its time. Dynamic flow of the vehicle, head lights which flow along with the line work of the car, and it kept design continuity with the badge sink.


The sharp flow of the headlights became part of Peugeot’s design identity and along with the badge sink, it has been carried forward to future Peugeot vehicles.

2009-peugeot-107-front-angle-588x422  Peugeot-307_2005_800x600_wallpaper_03

With the 208 fresh out of the oven, we can quickly analysis the design they have incorporated into the styling of the vehicle.

Traditional 3 wheels wheelbase distance, with slightly more over hang. 208 has a higher vanishing point to the 308, which is understandable as the 308 is the higher model, and require that streamline and dynamic edge to be worthy of the higher price tag. The slight forward leaning stance and the low belt line is common with the two design, but we can see an overlapping B-point and vanishing point on the 208, which is common style used for superminis.

Peugeot-208-R2-Rally-Car-Unveiled-Side-View  2011-Peugeot-308-GTi-Cars-left-side-view-800x580


Hyundai Design language and history

When Hyundai first started manufacturing their own vehicles in 1975, they wanted to make sure that the design would appear to customers. They managed to get hold of Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A to design their first vehicle, the Pony, and subsequently, the first generation Stellar, Excel and Sonata were also designed by Italdesign Giugiaro.

They were good design at the time but I felt that Italdesign Giugiaro was behind with their design philosophy in the 70s and 80s. Many car manufacturers were transitioning out of the box shape, sharp edges design during this period, but Italdesign Giugiaro were still applying it in their design. It wasn’t until late 80s, where the line flow of their cars were starting to become smoother and more dynamic.


When the company underwent major reconstruction, splitting off from the rest of Hyundai companies, and the acquiring of Kia, we saw a confusing sense of design and styling in the company’s products. The company wanted to produce better quality cars, but the design of their cars lacked character and definition. With the release of Hyundai Tiburon, we saw a car with good continuity line flow, being “facelifted” into a 6 eyes monster, which makes removes the “expression” of the face.


Then there was the inconsistency in design. The 1993 Sonata had a facebook to its 5th generation, were we saw a front face upgrade with round edged lights, yet only 1 year later, the Elantra facelift recieved squared shaped head lights.

1999_hyundai_sonata_4_dr_gls_sedan-pic-49428 01-03_Hyundai_Elantra_GLS_sedan

I’d say it wasn’t until mid 2000s when Hyundai’s design really caught up with their competitors in exterior styling. With the introduction of Namyang Design Centre in Korea, American Design Centre in California and Europe Design Centre in Germany, Hyundai has turned their exterior design to a new direction.

The introduction of continuity in the design was a long awaited feature that is present in many car manufacturers. The embedded logo with lines fading out towards the light can be seen with all of the i-range products.


The Veloster is a design revolution for Hyundai as it is a sports car which Hyundai has never done before. Personally, I think the Veloster is beautifully styled, it also introduces the design continuity seen with i-range products.


Within the American market, the luxury Genesis and Equus are also well designed. The design language of the two cars are very similar, and there is also continuity of features with the two cars as seen below.

2011-hyundai-equus-4-door-sedan-signature-side-exterior-view_100362100_l hyundai-genesis-6-big There is more of a distance from the green house to the vanishing point on the Equus (top) which is a common method for car designers when they are designing higher grade models to give the car a more stream line, dynamic and luxurious. More rear overhang gives the car a backwards leaning stance and provides a better sense of speed and motion.

01-2013-hyundai-genesis-sedan628opt  2013-Hyundai-Equus-front-three-quarter-1024x640


With their luxury sedan having a front redesign, and a different logo, I can see Hyundai spawning a seperate luxury brand identity, similar to that of Lexus to Toyota or Infiniti to Nissan. We will have to wait and see if this prediction is true or not.


Environmentally trendy

There is a growing concern with the environment, everybody is recycling plastics bottles at home, recycling  paper waste at work… Whether being “green” is the right thing to do or not, it is however the new “trend” in society, and car manufacturers are constantly developing hybrids and electric vehicles to meet this increasing demand.

Peugeot and Hyundai are no exceptions to this emerging techology.

Peugeot introduced their version of the start-stop system; the “Stop & Start system” in their hybrid vehicles. It should supposedly result in higher efficiency, lower fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. How it works is that whenever you’re stationary, the engine stops; then restarts it again when you move off. It has the benefits of reducing fuel consumption when you’re driving by up to 15% in dense urban traffic, and reignition, which is 40% quicker. This technology is incorporated  in the 308, 3008, 508, 5008, Partner van and Partner Tepee hybrid models


Hyundai are currently only offering 1 Hybrid vehicle, the Sonata hybrid. What is interesting is that Hyundai developed their own original hybrid architecture. What’s the difference? Unlike hybrid systems constructed by Ford or Toyota, Hyundai’s system uses a new six-speed automatic transmission with an electric motor that takes the place of the torque converter, instead of a continuously variable transmission with integrated electric motors and generators. Which means that Hyundai is trying to address the common complaint that hybrids are boring to drive, and provide credible mileage for city driving conditions while delivering top-tier fuel economy for highway driving.


Additionally, Hyundai introduced a system called “Bluedrive” which is a collection of technologies which makes their car more efficient. These are all existing technologies that are found on most cars but the “bluedrive” name might persuade some customers


Motorsport – Hyundai

Hyundai had only previously been involved with in the F2 of WRC, but has dropped out since 2003.

There were rumours during the introduction of the Korean Grand Prix that Hyundai will be making an appearance to the F1. There were even concept cars shown all over the internet; however, this never happened. I think it was a wise move not to have entered the grand prix, despite its popularity, I don’t think Hyundai’s brand image fits in well with F1. Yes, they will get a lot of media attention for entering, but that will phase out, and with the likes of Red Bull. Mclaren and Ferrari having the best drivers, it will be hard for Hyundai to earn a reputable position. the investment into the most expensive motorsport would have gone to waste.


Hyundai has confirm in September 2012 that they will be making a return to WRC, possibly as early as 2013.

I think rallying is definitely the best Motorsport for Hyundai to compete in. There isn’t any need to develop F1 or sporting cars as they already have previous experience in it and existing range of cars which qualifies for the championship. It can also demonstrate their new car’s durability and liability, and I think WRC is by far the best choice of competition for Hyundai. Rumors around says that the Veloster or the i20 will picked for their WRC entry.



Motorsport – Peugeot

Motorsport has always been a way for automotive manufacturers to show off their engineering capabilities and to demonstrate their car’s reliability. Peugeot is no stranger to Motorsport, and have been one of the first to be involved in Motorsport. Peugeot entered what was considered to be the world’s first motor race, Paris-rouen. Although Peugeot did not finish first, they were the official winner of the race as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics.


In peugeot’s long history of Motorsport,  the first major title for Peugoet where it made its name would be in 1912 when it won the French Grand Prix and again in the following year. The car that was used was powered by a straight-4 engine designed by Ernest Henry. The design was very influential for racing engines as it featured for the first time DOHC and four valves per cylinder providing for high engine speeds, a radical departure from previous racing engines which relied on huge displacement for power.

In the Rallying world, Peugeot has also been successful. In 1963, Nick Nowicki and Paddy Cliff won the East African Safari with a 404 and in 1975 and 1978, Peugeot won the Safari Rally both with a 504.

Peugeot also had great achievement in international rallying. The Peugeot sport (formerly Peugeot Talbot Sport) was formed after Jean Todt, a co-driver for  Guy Fréquelin was asked to create a sporting department for PSA Peugeot Citroën group. With their turbo charged 205, they won the title in 1985 and 1986. They departed from rally and switched to rally raids the following year, but made a successful return to rally in 1999 with their 206 and won the 2000 Swedish Rally, along with the manufacturer’s title in their first year return which they successfully defended the following year. The 307 replaced the 206 in 2004, but it failed to match the success of its predecessor. Peugeot decided to withdraw from WRC after 2005 and have not re-entered since.

800px-Peugeot_205_Turbo_16_-_Race_Retro_2008_01 peugeot-206-wrc-02

Other Motorsport participation for Peugeot included touring car and sports car racing. Both entered in the 90s, the 406 saloon enjoyed success in France, Germany and Australia in the touring car championship, but struggled to win in the British Touring Car Championship.

A prototype model called the 905 was entered into the World Sportscar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The 905 was successful in WSC, winning 8 of the 14 races and winning the team and driver titles in 1992. They also won 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1992 and 1993. Peugeot retired from sports car racing and made a return in 2007 with a diesel powered 908. 908 showed early promises in WSC but ultimately lost to Audi dued to unreliability, and again in 2008.  The 908 performed much better for the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished first and second over.


Although Peugeot never participated, they provided engines to Formula 1 teams, notably to Mclaren in 1994, Jordan in 95-97 and to Prost from 98-2000. Peugeot have not had any involvement with F1 since.

Peugeot has definitely made impressive achievements within Motorsport but as of right now, they are only involved with one-make racing, with the RCZ and 208, and super 2000. It’s difficult to suggest what Motorsport they should re-enter, as Peugeot have had good reputation in many of them.

As Citroën are currently participating in WRC, and are well on form with their performance, I don’t think Peugeot will be re-entering WRC. With the current finical struggle Peugeot is having, I don’t think it would be wise for them to invest in developing new cars for Sports car racing and especially not for Formula 1. As Peugeot is not a big name in America, it would be pointless entering NASCAR.

I think if Peugeot were to enter international racing again, World Touring Car Championship would be the best option. It would be a simple transition from Super 2000, and it can demonstrate their vehicle’s durability. I also think the RCZ should be the vehicle entering WTCC, as it is the sports car of Peugeot, and getting more media attention will improve sales with the vehicle.