At the Recent Beijing International Motor Show, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. made it clear its new ultramodern plant is key to its game plan in China.

“Our new plant will produce 100,000 Elantra Yuedong models in its first year, and in 2009 it will begin producing the i30 that is now being made in Ulsan, (South) Korea, and at a new plant in Czech Republic,” President Noh Jae-man says.

The Chinese version of the Elantra, called the Yuedong, features a larger front end and headlamps, plus chrome side moldings and other modifications.

“Chinese customers like larger cars, and even though this is a compact (car), the way we have modified it from the old Elantra gives (customers) a car they can boast about,” Noh says.

The Korean version of the Elantra continues in production at BHMC's original plant, and more than 100,000 units are expected to be sold in 2008, mostly for use as taxis.

Later this year, production of an all-new Hyundai SF Sonata will begin at the same facility.

Production of the sporty i30 hatchback, restyled for the Chinese market, will begin next year at BHMC's new plant. A new SUV will be built alongside the i30 by 2010.

The SUV “will be a replacement for the Tucson, which currently is produced in our original plant,” he says.

A new design and technical center, located at the second plant site, should be operational by next year, Noh says.

“The first indigenous car will be based on the old EF Sonata platform (but) will look like and feel like a totally different car,” he says. “It will wear our first Beijing Hyundai badge.” The car will be priced from RMB128,000 ($18,300) to RMB158,000 ($22,590).

Noh says he is confident BHMC will reach its aggressive 2008 sales goal of 380,000 units, a 65% jump over last year's sales of 231,137.

First-quarter sales results, which do not include production from the new plant, totaled 73,207 units, a 14.4% from like-2007.

“There will be a considerable effect from sales of the new Elantra Yuedong and from the launch of the new Sonata in November,” Noh says.

BHMC has reinforced its sales network and established three large regional headquarters to cover markets in the East, North and South.

“We now have 357 dealers, and this will increase to 420 before the end of the year,” Noh says.

In 2007, BHMC's sales fell 21.0% to 231,137 units, from 290,000 in prior-year. Noh admits the auto maker's failure to cut prices last year until September was a mistake, as was the lack of new-model introductions.

“If you look at what happened in 2007, this is about the time that competitors began slashing their prices,” he says. “This year, that is not happening. Some of our competitors have even raised prices.”

Beijing Hyundai Launches Yuedong at New Plant