Hyundai Motor targets 5 percent U.S. sales growth this year

Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:45am EDT
 
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By Hyunjoo Jin

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor (005380.KS: Quote) aims to boost its U.S. sales by 4.7 percent this year, ahead of the industry's projected growth rate, despite a consumer shift to SUVs and pick-up trucks.

Sales of Hyundai's mainstay sedans, the Elantra and Sonata, have slowed in the United States as consumers take advantage of lower fuel prices to switch to less fuel-efficient larger vehicles, strongholds of U.S. and Japanese firms.

Hyundai said on Tuesday it aims to increase its U.S. sales to 760,000 vehicles this year, from 726,000 last year, and will launch its revamped Tucson SUV in the U.S. market in the second quarter.

Its planned growth rate would be more than double the expected industry growth rate of 2 percent.

"The 5 percent target looks challenging. There are not many Hyundai SUVs to sell in the U.S.," said Ko Tae-bong, auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.

He said supply is tight for Hyundai's SUVs, as it does not produce the Tucson in the United States, and relies on Kia's U.S. factory for production of Santa Fe SUVs. Hyundai also does not sell pick-up trucks.

Reuters reported last week that Hyundai is in talks with the state of Alabama to build a new assembly line next to its current line in Alabama.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday that the new Hyundai production facilities, which plan to start production in April 2017, will make Santa Fe SUVs, although that is subject to change.   Continued...

 
The Hyundai Santa Cruz crossover concept truck is displayed during the first press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook