Hyundai's Casper Mini SUV Proves Runaway Success

  • By Ryu Jung

    September 27, 2021 13:13

    Hyundai's new subcompact SUV Casper is on the track to become a mega hit as pre-orders have set a record in the first 10 days.

    Hyundai sold 18,940 Caspers on the first day of pre-orders on Sept. 14, a record for the carmaker's combustion-engine cars and way more than this year's entire production target of 12,000 cars for the SUV. Pre-orders reached about 25,000 as of Sept. 23.

    The Casper is made by Gwangju Global Motors, a joint venture between Hyundai and the city of Gwangju.

    Eighty percent of workers at GGM, which was launched in April, are in their 20s and 30s, and they are paid W35 million a year, which is half what their peers at Hyundai proper earn (US$1=W1,180).

    GGM has no labor union and workers agreed not to hold wage disputes until the automaker reaches a cumulative output of 350,000 cars. But the biggest difference is that its cars are sold exclusively online, bypassing expensive dealerships altogether.

    Whether the Casper alone can revive the subcompact market here remains to be seen. Since peaking at 200,000 vehicles in 2012, subcompact sales declined to 97,343 by 2020. Until the Casper came out, only three subcompacts had still been available in Korea -- Kia's Morning and Ray and GM Korea's Spark.

    In the first eight months of this year they fell another seven percent on-year to 60,664 cars. But the success of the Casper has raised hopes of a revival for the practical little city zippers.

    One industry insider said, "Sales of subcompacts plummeted almost 40 percent last month after remaining at between 7,000 to 8,000 vehicles. The initial popularity of the Casper appears to stem from some of the demand for existing subcompacts shifting to the new model."

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