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Hyundai's Most Profitable Product, One Year After Launch

Anton Wahlman profile picture
Anton Wahlman


  • The large 3-row SUV Hyundai Palisade had its best month ever in May 2020. It also opened up a 3:1 sales gap against its sister vehicle Kia Telluride.
  • Analyzing the possible factors, it’s clear what caused it: The Hyundai Palisade is made in Korea, which was able to supply the market.
  • In contrast, not only the Kia Telluride but almost all other 3-row SUVs are made in North America or Europe, which had production shut down.
  • The Hyundai Palisade’s superior sales result may be confirmed by the Mazda CX-9, which is made in Japan and saw a 21% U.S. sales jump in May also.
  • Being the “only game in town” with a great supply of freshly-made vehicles makes the Hyundai Palisade seem like the shrimp boat “storm survival” scene from Forrest Gump.
  • Looking for a helping hand in the market? Members of Auto/Mobility Investors get exclusive ideas and guidance to navigate any climate. Get started today »

NOTE: A version of this article was first published on or about June 5, 2020, on my Seeking Alpha Marketplace site.

For the month of May 2020, the Hyundai (OTCPK:HYMLF) Palisade had its best month since it launched in the U.S. in late June 2019. It sold a whopping 7,866 units in the U.S. - simply the highest monthly number since inception.

Even though many automakers experienced a bit of a rebound in May 2020 from the generational lows of April 2019, that is not the same as the industry being back to where it was before April 2019, or even March 2019. The industry rebound is partial, not complete.

Yet, the Hyundai Palisade bucked this trend in a most dramatic way, getting back not just to where it had been in February 2020 or December 2019 - but easily trouncing every single sales number since inception, a year ago. This Superman-like performance from the Hyundai Palisade warrants an explanation.

But first, an important piece of background on the Hyundai Palisade itself.

Hyundai Palisade: A full-size upscale 3-row SUV

Hyundai had been selling a 3-row version of the Santa Fe for several years. It was not a product remotely comparable with the Palisade for primarily two reasons:

  1. It was not full-size. The 3-row Santa Fe was simply not large enough, meaning that it was not a serious competitor to the Chevrolet Traverse or Honda Pilot, two of the class-leading entries in terms of interior space - for both people and their luggage.

  2. It was not upscale. While the Santa Fe of 2018 was no longer bargain-basement in its last iteration, it was also not a premium product. It was still competing closer to the bottom half of the mass market.

In the “old days,” the 3-row SUVs were body-on-frame and dominated

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This article was written by

Anton Wahlman profile picture
I am a former sell-side analyst -- UBS 1996-2002, Needham 2002-2006 and ThinkEquity 2006-2008. These days I review automobiles and other technology products, as well as analyze the automotive and technology industries, and coming up with long/short ideas. I also continue to write (less frequently) on macroeconomics and politics.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was short TSLA. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends press conferences, new vehicle launches and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers. Hyundai and Kia hosted product intros.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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