Hyundai will launch pickup, more SUVs to re­verse US sales slide

Global Times - Weekend - - AUTO -

Hyundai Mo­tor plans to launch a pickup truck in the US as part of a broader plan to catch up with a shift away from sedans in one of the South Korean au­tomaker’s most im­por­tant mar­kets, a se­nior com­pany ex­ec­u­tive said.

Michael J. O’Brien, vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate and prod­uct plan­ning at Hyundai’s US unit, said Hyundai’s top man­age­ment has given the green light for devel­op­ment of a pickup truck sim­i­lar to a show ve­hi­cle called the Santa Cruz that US Hyundai ex­ecu- tives un­veiled in 2015.

Hyundai cur­rently does not of­fer a pickup truck in the US.

O’Brien also said Hyundai plans to launch a small SUV called the Kona in the US later this year.

Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the au­tomaker’s plans said the pickup truck is ex­pected to be launched in 2020.

They said sep­a­rately that Hyundai plans to in­tro­duce three other new or re­freshed SUVs by 2020.

Un­der the plan, Hyundai Mo­tor in­tends to roll out a new ver­sion of its Santa Fe Sport mid-sized SUV next year, fol­lowed by an all-new 7-pas­sen­ger cross­over which will re­place a cur­rent three-row Santa Fe in early 2019 in the US. A re­designed Tuc­son SUV is ex­pected in 2020.

So-called crossovers – sport util­i­ties built on chas­sis sim­i­lar to sedans – now ac­count for about 30 per­cent of to­tal light ve­hi­cle sales in the US.

Con­sumers in China, the world’s largest auto mar­ket, are also sub­sti­tut­ing car-based SUVs for sedans.

Hyundai’s US deal­ers have pushed the com­pany to in­vest more ag­gres­sively in SUVs and trucks as de­mand for sedans such as the mid­size Sonata and the smaller Elantra has waned.

“We are op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture,” said Scott Fink, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hyundai of New Port Richey, Florida, which is Hyundai’s big­gest US dealer. “But we are dis­ap­pointed that we don’t have the prod­ucts today.”

Hyundai’s US sales are down nearly 11 per­cent this year through July 31, worse than the over­all 2.9 per­cent de­cline in US car and light truck sales. Sales of the Sonata, once a pil­lar of Hyundai’s US fran­chise, have fallen 30 per­cent through the first seven months of 2017.

In con­trast, sales of Hyundai’s cur­rent SUV lineup are up 11 per­cent for the first seven months of this year.

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