Welcome to The Drift where Jalopnik East rounds up the highlights from all around the Pacific Rim. In today’s headlines, Hyundai Motor Group’s Aslan completely bombs in its home market, Honda and Mitsubishi both add to recall totals within Japan, and Mitsubishi’s headquarters makes changes to help its employees reach a better work-life balance.
Only one year ago, Hyundai Motor Group announced the Aslan in its home market of South Korea. A supposed “import-killer” domestic luxury sedan, it was meant to take on Mercedes, Audi, BMW, and offer Korean customers proof that a home-grown product could compete... except sales have been utterly abysmal, according to a report from Just Auto. Even GM Korea’s rebadged Buick LaCrosse (the Alpheon in Korea) has sold better.
If one has visited Korea for an extended period of time sometime in the last ten years (I lived there in 2007-2008), one will no doubt notice that Korean domestic consumption of vehicles is pretty much locked into Korea manufacturers, but that’s changing. Glenn Brooks argues that what we’re seeing is a normalisation of the Korean domestic market, and I agree. It’s not enough for HMG to throw more luxury versions of Hyundais and Kias at the Korean public, because as Korea’s ascent continues, that public is looking for competition—something which has sorely been lacking from homegrown automakers (despite three of them being non-Korean owned).
The Aslan, with all of its conjuring up of references to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, is an “import-killer” the Korean public doesn’t actually want. Maybe they should try shipping it from Ulsun to the US with a reasonable price point?
Coming off the disclosure of the first known Takata airbag fatality in Japan, Honda adds 4.5 million more vehicles to its own Takata related recalls within Japan, according to a report from Bloomberg. A spokesman for Honda, Tatebe Teruhiko, told Bloomberg by phone that the recall models are the Fit and CR-V, for a total of 1.63 million vehicles. This ups the worldwide total of recalled vehicles to 24.5 million.
In a separate recall, Mitsubishi Motors is recalling 2010-2012 model year Colts because of a defect in the electric power steering gear, according to a report by Response. The recall was reported to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport as a “free of charge recovery and repair.” The recall covers 21,811 cars and 866 replacement parts not currently installed on vehicles. The danger is in the torque sensor wiring, which causes the power steering to apply far more force than is needed. Mitsubishi claims that there have been no accidents, but that it has discovered the defect because of customer complaints.
During the summer, working in Japan seems like a raw deal if you’re on a typical daytime eight hour schedule, all because way back in 1895, someone decided to set Japan on a timezone which made sense then... but totally doesn’t make sense now with the sun rising at 4AM and setting between 6PM and 7PM.
Given this utter stupidity, I think it’s awesome that Mitsubishi Motors has decided to institute Daylight Savings Time at its headquarters from July 13 to September 30. Working hours will be rolled back by thirty minutes, with the work day now being 8:15AM to 5:15PM. Mitsubishi says that it recognises that its employees have a “summer life style change” and they wish to enhance the work-life balance with the change. The move is an addition to other work-life balance enhancements which include scheduling flexibility for child care, commuting situations, and other unavoidable circumstances.
Japanese corporate culture hasn’t been known in the past for promoting work-life balance, but Mitsubishi seems to be going the extra mile to do just that.
Images via AP, Mitsubishi and Hyundai, modifications by Kat Callahan/Jalopnik.
Jalopnik East is your daily dose of the latest automotive news out of Asia, covering domestic developments and car culture in Japan, Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Just because you can’t drive it, doesn’t mean we can’t share it with you. You can usually catch us every day between 5am and 7am ET.