Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. launches sales in South Korea this week of its premium Veracruz cross/utility vehicle, which is larger than the Santa Fe and will be sold in North America, as well.

A Hyundai spokesman says the auto maker is targeting buyers who generally shop high-end Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus brands.

With a Korean price tag ranging from 33.7 million won to 42.7 million won (($35,222 to $44,618), depending on trim and options, the 7-seat Veracruz comes equipped with a 240-hp 3.0L V-6 diesel engine. Additional features include electronic stability control, all-wheel drive and side and side curtain airbags.

The U.S. model, which goes on sale in December when pricing also will be announced, is equipped with a 3.8L V-6 gasoline mill and 6-speed automatic transmission. The U.S. sales launch is earlier than previously reported, the spokesman says.

Export sales to unspecified overseas markets begin this month.

Hyundai is looking to sell 5,000 Veracruz CUVs in 2006 and 85,000 units globally in 2007, including 65,000 exports. Most of the export vehicles will be shipped in the U.S., where annual sales of 50,000 units are expected.

Global sales are projected to reach 100,000 units annually by 2010, including 24,000 units in Korea and 76,000 in overseas markets.