Hyundai launches nimble campaign to court female Saudi drivers

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-08-02 16:28 Updated : 2018-08-02 16:44
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[Courtesy of Hyundai]

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor, a top carmaker in South Korea, launched a nimble marketing campaign to court millions of potential female drivers in Saudi Arabia which has lifted a ban on female drivers in an effort to strengthen the role of women.

Previously, Saudi women were not allowed to sit in the driver's seat. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who assumed power in June 2017, lifted the ban in June despite a mix of criticism and skepticism from conservative groups. PricewaterhouseCoopers, a London-based market research and consulting company, estimates that about three million Saudi women are expected to drive for themselves.

"We will make various efforts to support females of the millennial generation, including those from Saudi Arabia, who are becoming major consumers," Hyundai said in a statement on Thursday. The world's fifth-largest carmaker marked the launching of its "#whatsnext" campaign in Saudi Arabia with a promotional video uploaded onto Facebook.

The popular video showed Saudi Arabian women pursuing various kinds of careers. Hyundai also opened a digital showroom in a shopping mall in Riyadh where female staff would greet and guide visitors. The South Korean company plans to open more showrooms in other cities in Saudi Arabia.

The company will localize cars to match the driving style of Saudi women. As well as an alarm system which notifies the driver when a long garment or part of a robe gets stuck in a door, safety features such as a blind spot collision warning system and a parking distance warning system will be added.

Hyundai has persistently sought ways to strengthen its brand power in the stagnant global car market. As part of its desperate move for survival, the company has released a lineup of electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

In April, the Saudi prince presented his initiative called "Saudi Vision 2030" to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. The blueprint included improving women's rights.