Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. tells shareholders at the company’s annual meeting it plans to increase worldwide vehicle sales by 14.6% to 2.4 million vehicles in 2005.

Hyundai sold 2.1 million vehicles worldwide in 2004, exceeding its sales target of 1.76 million units and besting 2003 results of 1.65 million vehicles.

Vice Chairman Kim Dong-jin says the company is targeting a 10% increase in South Korean domestic sales and 58% sales jump overseas, and that includes vehicles built in Korea as well as other countries.

Hyundai says it posted a net profit of 1.8 trillion won ($1.79 billion) on sales of 27.5 trillion won ($27.3 billion) in 2004. That compares with 2003’s record high net profit of 1.75 trillion won ($1.5 billion) on sales of 24.97 trillion won ($24.8 billion).

Hyundai NF Sonata

Hyundai also says it plans to add helicopters to its sales offerings in South Korea through an agreement with Kawasaki Motors Co. Ltd. of Japan.

Kim says Hyundai will introduce the new NF Sonata sedan equipped with a 3.3L Lambda engine in the domestic market in early April, one month ahead of the unit’s planned sales launch in the U.S.

North American versions will be built in Montgomery, AL, Hyundai’s first U.S. vehicle assembly plant, which begins production this month. The new facility has a production capacity of 300,000 units annually.

Kim says once the Montgomery plant and others under construction in India and China come on-line the percentage of cars produced outside Korea will increase significantly, offsetting the negative impact of Korea’s strong won against the weak U.S. dollar.

The plant under construction in Beijing will be completed next year and will double Hyundai’s capacity in China to 600,000 vehicles annually.

Ground will be broken for the India facility next month, which will have a 150,000-unit capacity. Once the plant goes into production in 2007, it will increase Hyundai’s capacity in India to more than 400,000 vehicles annually.

Hyundai also will increase production at its assembly facility in Turkey, focusing the plant’s output on the East European market.

Kim says the auto maker’s overall target this year for research and development investment as a percentage of sales is 6.2%, compared with prior-year’s 5.9%.

He says Hyundai plans to invest an additional 300 billion won ($298 million) by 2010 to increase production capacity for hybrid vehicles, targeting output of 300,000 hybrid vehicles annually by that time.