S. Korean carmakers look to expand US market share

LOS ANGELES: After making solid gains in 2009, South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia are predicting more gains in market share in 2010 as they roll out more new vehicles.John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s acting president and chief executive, said Thursday he expects car sales in the United States to grow next year, and Hyundai’s market share to grow with it.

“Sales should be up about eight percent to 10 percent next year,” he said. “The first and second quarter will be more like this year but things should pick up in the third quarter,” Krafcik said.

Overall sales in the US market should grow beyond 11 million units in 2010. Hyundai’s market share also will continue to grow, he said.

Hyundai, which sold over 401,000 cars so far in 2009, boosted its market share by a third this year and more gains are expected next year with introduction of the all new 2011 Sonata and new Tucson.

Both models were unveiled during the press previews leading up to the official opening of the Los Angeles auto show Friday.

The Sonata was designed to compete in the mid-sized segment, which is at the heart of the US car market.

Scott Magnusson, Hyundai’s director of product planning, said the new Sonata offers efficiency, excellent packaging and solid driving dynamics at less than  20,000. “But it’s also well styled,” he said. “You still have great efficiency and great packaging and not have to drive a boring car thanks to our fluidic styling.”

The same sculptural styling also was used in the design of the new Tucson, which Hyundai hopes will appeal to consumers who in the past have tended to go for the major Japanese brands — Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

“We’re being cross shopped much more frequently now with the Japanese,” said Magnusson.— AFP

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