ANN ARBOR, MI ‚Äď A seniorMotor America official says that contrary to published reports the U.S. sales arm probably will not bring the i10 minicar here.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very unlikely we‚Äôll bring the i10 to the U.S.,‚ÄĚ John Krafcik, vice president-product development and strategic planning for HMA, tells media at an event for the Genesis sedan here.
already sells the fuel-sipping A-car in South Korea and Europe.
For U.S. buyers looking for more fuel-efficient Hyundai offerings, Krafcik reiterates a plan to bring a hybrid version of the Sonata midsize car to the U.S., likely by 2010. The auto maker will show a rolling chassis of its parallel hybrid technology, featuring lithium-ion batteries, at November‚Äôs Los Angeles auto show, he says.
Four years into a product-launch strategy that has skewed toward larger vehicles, Krafcik says future Hyundai vehicles in the U.S. will be smaller.
A case in point is a B-segment coupe based on the Veloster concept car shown at the 2007 Seoul motor show.
The Veloster will fit in Hyundai‚Äôs U.S. lineup below the departing Tiburon coupe, while the upcoming Genesis, which goes into production in December and on sale in first-quarter 2009, will slot above the segment Tiburon occupies.
Ensuring sufficient numbers of smaller, fuel-efficient cars has been an issue for Hyundai in the U.S. in recent years, as most models are built overseas, where demand is stronger.
Krafcik says while HMA has been able to procure more units of its Accent subcompact and Elantra compact cars, that‚Äôs still not enough to meet demand.
Because of this, he sees Hyundai‚Äôs U.S. sales flat or up slightly for the year but says the auto maker should hit a market-share record in 2008.
‚ÄúRight now we‚Äôre tracking at 3.2%, which will be our first time ever over 3% share,‚ÄĚ Krafcik says, adding Hyundai might be able to do better than that before the year is through.
The auto maker earned a 2.9% market share in 2007 and currently stands at 3.2% through July, Ward‚Äôs data shows. Hyundai sales through July were down 3% to 271,769 units compared with year-ago‚Äôs 280,106.
The decision by some U.S. auto makers to suspend or moderate leasing has been Hyundai‚Äôs gain, with sales up 56% last month in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio, says Tom Caza, district sales manager-Central Region for HMA.
‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt say (leasing is) the sole reason, but it‚Äôs certainly a big consideration,‚ÄĚ he says of the spike.
Krafcik says the leasing trend has had a ‚Äúhuge impact‚ÄĚ on Hyundai sales in the region this year. Up to now, the brand has ‚Äústruggled in this market ‚Äď it has been very difficult for Hyundai with the strength of the domestics here.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, early sales of Hyundai‚Äôs Genesis sedan, available since June with a V-6 engine have pleased the auto maker. The V-8 version is expected to begin arriving in U.S. dealerships in late August or early September.
Hyundai sold 30 units of the Genesis in June, 619 in July and is tracking to hit 1,200 in August.
The car has been particularly strong in California, the only market that has had full availability up to this point, outselling the B-car Accent, whose deliveries jumped 56.2% through July, Ward‚Äôs data shows.
Hyundai hopes to sell 50,000 units annually of the combined Genesis sedan and coupe, with a goal to deliver 8,000 in 2008, Krafcik says. He expects the lower-priced coupe to account for the lion‚Äôs share of sales.
‚ÄúFifty thousand units is reasonably achievable,‚ÄĚ Krafcik says. ‚ÄúI can see 20,000 sedans and 30,000 coupes.‚ÄĚ