Hyundai exhibited its new competition model for the 2014 World Rally Championship season, known as WRC. The competition starts on the same day as the announcement of the establishment of a performance division by the Hyundai brand.
The Hyundai Performance Division will be called "N" after the first letter of the city where Hyundai has its headquarters, Namyang. The first model to bear the name N is the competition model, although Hyundai representatives have not specified whether they will apply the particle "N" in the classical name of the model, as he did Volkswagen with Polo R WRC, or whether they will apply the solution adopted by BMW, and put the letter related to the sports division in place of the letter "i" in the name of each model in the range.
The company is testing the i20 machine that will compete with VW’s Polo, Citroen’s DS3 as well as Ford’s Focus.
The Hyundai performance division has been announced in the past, and that it is designed to achieve additional growth in all markets in which the brand from South Korea operates, as well as to develop the image of the Namyang manufacturer. As demonstrated by the Hyundai’s rivals, a strong and wide array of performance models can be used as image capital to increase the sales volume. To the extent that Hyundai has come up with competitive pricing in Europe, we can expect the performance division to provoke the emotions of builders who have a tradition in this field on the European market.
The return of Hyundai brand in WRC brings, besides the immediate benefit for the championship with the entry of a new team of factory, the image capital for the South Korean brand, and know-how for the engineers of the performance division. In addition, Hyundai opened in 2013, a test center at Nurburgring, which will be heavily involved in both the development of the series models and development of the performance models.
“It is Hyundai’s intention to connect the experience of sport with road cars,” said team principal Michel Nandan. “It’s probably a bit too early to talk about it because we’re still in the early stages of the development of the i20 WRC.”
Team manager Alain Penasse declared that the WRC program has the goal of changing the brand’s image in order to attract younger buyers. “Whatever performance we get from the WRC car you always sell better,” he said. “You attract attention of younger people and that’s the aim of Hyundai. It knows it has to do something to make the brand younger and more dynamic.”
He continued saying that the rally program is already having a positive influence on research and development activities: “We have a lot of Korean engineers who are at the WRC base near Frankfurt.
“They work closely with us and there is a very good cooperation with the Yeongnam research and development centre. They started the work on the i20 WRC there before the program was launched and are heavily involved.”