New-car shoppers who fly to another city often do so in search of a hard-to-find Mercedes, Lexus or other high-price vehicle. Lately they're looking for Hyundai models. In short order, the once-dodgy brand is suddenly being associated with one of the most desirable problems in the auto industry: scarcity.
"I was surprised," says George Glassman, a Hyundai franchisee in Southfield, Michigan who has delivered cars to buyers from Cleveland and Chicago. "Demand is outstripping availability. People who want a particular color or set of features buy the car and fly in to pick it up."
Availability of Hyundais in the U.S. is tight because the company is "more or less maxed out" on worldwide production, according to John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America, the U.S. subsidiary of the South Korean automaker. "We're doing everything we can. Some of our dealers are quite upset they can't get enough cars." Marc Cannon, a spokesman for AutoNation, the nation's biggest auto retailer, called demand for Hyundais "overwhelming," resulting in shortages at the chain's five franchises.
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