DETROIT -- It took Hyundai Motor America two years to decide which satellite radio service was most suitable for its U.S. vehicles.
Last week, Hyundai said it will begin outfitting vehicles in the 2006 model year with service from XM Satellite Radio Inc. because XM fits with Hyundai's "refined and confident" brand image in the U.S. market. Eventually, all Hyundai vehicles sold here will have the service.
The decision is another big win for XM and will help XM reach its goal of 5.5 million subscribers by year end. XM has 3 million subscribers. Competitor Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. has 1 million.
Hyundai's U.S. sales have been growing at a healthy clip, from 400,221 in 2003 to 418,615 last year.
"It's the image of the car when you think of Hyundai," company spokesman Chris Hosford said when asked why Hyundai chose XM. "Although I wouldn't say that for every person in the United States this would immediately spring to mind."
Hyundai buyers will get a 90-day break on XM's $12.95 monthly fee.
Terms of the Hyundai-XM deal were not disclosed.
Sirius had some news of its own last week. Mercedes-Benz will install factory-equipped Sirius radios on its 2006 M class, while Ford Motor Co. subsidiaries Land Rover and Jaguar will offer Sirius Satellite Radio as a dealer-installed option as part of an agreement reached this year.
In a break from the market norm, buyers of the 2006 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport who choose Sirius won't get 30, 60 or 90 days of free service.
"There will be no free trial period," says Land Rover spokesman Larry Rosinski. "If they are going to pony up $400 for the option, they are going to pay for the service right away."
M-class buyers will be charged $500 for the Sirius option. They'll get six months of free service.
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