BADEN-BADEN, Germany -- Hyundai expects its European new-car sales to overtake Nissan's this year.
"Passing Nissan is now our next goal, and it is not far away," said Werner Frey, Hyundai Motor Europe vice president, at the launch here of the new Sonata large-segment sedan.
Frey said Hyundai aims to sell 430,000 units in Europe this year, raising its market share to 2.6 percent.
Last year Korea's biggest auto-maker sold 340,000 passenger vehicles throughout Europe, giving it a 2.1 percent share of the market. Nissan had a 2.5 percent share in 2004.
Hyundai hopes to boost its European sales by:
Frey said Hyundai's ambition is to sell about 700,000 units annually by 2010, pushing it into the top 10 in Europe.
"We want to be the second best-selling non-European brand behind Toyota," Frey said.
The Sonata goes on sale across Europe starting next month, initially with gasoline engines only. Hyundai expects to sell 11,300 Sonatas this year.
But after the Sonata gets an all-new 2.0-liter diesel engine starting next March, Hyundai expects the large car's sales to increase to 20,000 units a year. Last year Hyundai sold 3,795 Sonatas in western Europe.
By the end of the year Hyundai expects to have boosted the number of its dealers in Europe to 2,600 from 2,400.
Hyundai also is taking over or buying stakes in its distributors in European markets to better control sales and marketing activities.
Hyundai already has bought its distributors in Poland, Hungary and Norway. It is planning to buy minority stakes in its distributors in Italy, Germany, the UK and France. In Spain, Hyundai will buy a 10 percent stake in its distributor, which could be increased to 34 percent in 2008.
Frey said buying stakes in distributors is "a way to help local partners to increase their presence."