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Crushed by COVID! Richard Lee’s HARI shutters several Hyundai showrooms due to anemic sales

Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI), the official distributor of the South Korean carmaker in the Philippines, has closed down some of its showrooms as the pandemic continued to ravage automotive sales.

By Eileen Mencias

At least three HARI dealer branches have closed their doors – Tunasan, Muntinlupa; A. Bonifacio Avenue and E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue in Quezon City.

READ: P1B penalty not enough! House wants Hyundai punished for making mockery of car program

HARI’s Hyundai dealership in Balintawak Avenue in Quezon City has already told its after market clients that it would close shop by March 31.

READ: HARI ng smuggling? Hyundai still silent after getting caught cheating gov’t of P1B in duties

An owner of a automotive shop in La Pinas revealed that he had to travel to HARI’s Makati office to get parts of Hyundai cars for his customers.

READ: HARI ng smuggling: BOI suspends Hyundai for cheating on imports, gives it 6 months to pay back duties

A Hyundai dealer source said the closure of some of its showrooms was not surprising considering that many businesses have also been flattened by the pandemic.

READ: Lopez says BOI suspended Hyundai for cheating on taxes, duties: HARI has no assembly plant

The source said the downsizing of its dealership network was meant to rationalize its operations to cut costs and ensure the survival of some of its branches. HARI did not respond to this reporter’s questions.

The coronavirus has slashed automotive sales in the country by 40 percent to 248,171 units in 2020.

HARI, controlled by chairman emeritus Richard Lee, has 40 dealerships for passenger cars in the country.

Hyundai was the hardest hit among the top 10 automotive brands in the country as its sales plunged 50.68 percent to 16,651 units in 2020.

In a statement on the sad state of the local vehicle market, HARI president and CEO Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said: “Automotive was among the hard-hit sectors in this pandemic and we continue to feel the impact as sales, after-sales and auto-related services remain lackluster.

Despite the hurdles, the industry quickly adapted to the new normal, survived, and are finally seeing some signs of revival. However, we see more headwinds in the coming months.”

HARI bagged the Hyundai dealership in the country in 2001. It was only five years ago that Agudo declared Hyundai as a “challenger brand” in the industry.

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