With ambitious U.S. sales goals set for the end of the decade, South
Korea's automakers, Kia Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co., are spending heavily
on new products. Expect Hyundai and Kia to make dramatic improvements in
existing models when they are redesigned. In America, the two brands are looking
at new segments, such as small minivans, luxury sedans and pickups. Hyundai aims
to sell 1 million vehicles annually in the United States in 2010, while sibling
Kia has a 500,000-unit target. Last year, Hyundai sold 418,615 vehicles here;
Kia sold 270,055 units. Already, the Hyundai-Kia union has sparked new engine
families and shared platforms and components. Now, Hyundai Motor is working to
create distinct identities for the two brands. The Koreans want to compete with
more than inexpensive vehicles. They seek competitive durability, design and
performance. Here are Hyundai and Kia vehicle plans through the 2009 model year.
|Accent redesigned||Elantra redesigned||Tiburon redesigned; convertible debuts||Sonata coupe, convertible debut|
|Sonata redesigned||Entourage minivan debuts||Luxury sedan debuts||Possible pickup (or 2010)|
|Azera sedandebuts||Santa Fe redesigned||Large sport wagon debuts|
|Rio redesigned||Coupe, convertible debut (or 2009)||Large SUV debuts|
|Optima redesigned||Carens small minivan debuts||Possible pickup (or 2010)|
|Sedona redesigned||Possible Sorento redesign|
The more-powerful 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine features variable-valve timing and delivers 110 hp. Standard features will include six airbags, antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, halogen headlamps and CD stereo with XM satellite radio.
The oldest of Hyundai's products will be redesigned in the fall of 2006. The 2007 Elantra will grow to be among the largest models in the economy-car segment. A larger four-cylinder engine also is planned.
The Tiburon will be redesigned for the 2008 model year. A convertible version will be offered.
The redesigned 2006 Sonata debuted a few months ago. Sonata coupe and convertible: Hyundai will take on the Toyota Camry Solara and Chrysler Sebring with a Sonata coupe and convertible. The cars are expected to arrive in the spring of 2008.
The front-wheel-drive 2006 Hyundai Azera sedan arrives in December, replacing the XG350. The Azera is big: It has a 109.4-inch wheelbase; it is 192.7 inches long and 72.8 inches wide, making it a little larger than the Toyota Camry.
Hyundai wants to build the equivalent of a BMW 5 series but price it in the $33,000 range. It will launch the rear-drive sedan in the United States during the 2008 model year. The car will be the test case for launching a separate luxury brand. The car's exterior will feature short overhangs, a la BMW. It will be powered by a 3.8-liter longitudinally mounted V-6.
While Hyundai plans to introduce a large sport wagon for the 2008 model year, there is some debate on the vehicle's design. The Portico concept signals the design endorsed by Hyundai's executives in Korea, but that vehicle looks more like a minivan to some eyes here. Hyundai's American product planners are pushing for a more macho vehicle. The vehicle will be developed on the vehicle platform shared by the Hyundai Sonata and Azera. If the Portico concept's dimensions reflect the production vehicle, the sport wagon would be about an inch shorter than a Chevrolet Tahoe.
Hyundai's first minivan reaches dealers in the spring of 2006. The 2007 Entourage will be powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 engine, likely to have about 265 hp, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The Entourage shares a platform with the Kia Sedona minivan. Hyundai's model will be available in one size - the long wheelbase. The minivan will have six standard airbags, including side-curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers. The third row of seats will fold flat into the floor.
The compact sport wagon arrived as a 2005 model. No major changes are planned in the next several years.
The redesigned 2007 Santa Fe is bigger than the previous model and features three rows of seats. The Santa Fe's dimensions are similar to those of the Toyota Highlander. Two engines will be available: 3.3-liter and 3.8-liter V-6s. The new sport wagon shares a platform with the Hyundai Sonata.
Hyundai was expected to get a large SUV, developed on the body-on-frame platform Kia plans to use. But those plans are on the back burner.
Hyundai's executives in Korea have a stronger desire to get a luxury channel up and running in North America.
For its pickup, Hyundai will follow the Kia timetable, meaning it will arrive for the 2009 or 2010 model year. What is not clear is whether Hyundai will beef up the Sonata platform and create something more akin to the Honda Ridgeline or re-engineer a Kia truck platform.
The redesigned 2006 Rio arrives this fall. A sedan and five-door hatchback are planned. The new Rio has a longer wheelbase, wider track and more horsepower than the current model. The car shares a platform with the Hyundai Accent.
The Spectra was redesigned for the 2004 model year; no major changes are foreseen.
The redesigned Optima arrives in March. It rides on a 107.1-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 186.4 inches. The new Optima may not get the Sonata's big V-6 in the first year or so of the new cycle and may be left with the lackluster 2.7-liter instead. The base engine will be a 2.0-liter inline-four.
This is the last of the newer models on a Kia-specific platform. The Amanti arrived in early 2003, so no major changes are planned in the next several years. Coupe and convertible: Here's the recipe: Take the Kia Slice concept car and turn it into a coupe and convertible. Kia will create the models on the Hyundai Tiburon platform for the 2008 or 2009 model year. The Slice name is unlikely.
Kia's next-generation Carens small minivan is headed to the United States to take on the Mazda5. It will be developed on the same vehicle platform as the Kia Sportage and Spectra and Hyundai Elantra. Expect a similar choice of 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder and 2.7-liter V-6 engines. The vehicle will arrive here for the 2008 model year. It is not known if the Carens name will be used.
Long- and short-wheelbase versions of the redesigned 2006 Kia Sedona minivan will be available.
The redesigned Sedona minivan arrives in January in short- and long-wheelbase versions. The short-wheelbase models will offer a choice of a 3.3-liter or 3.8-liter V-6, while the long-wheelbase version likely will offer only the 3.8-liter V-6.
It was redesigned this spring; no major changes are planned.
Launched in the fall of 2002, the body-on-frame compact SUV is probably due for a redesign in the 2008 model year. Kia insiders say the automaker is committed to the SUV's truck-based underpinnings.
The Mesa concept offers styling cues for a large SUV Kia will introduce in 2009.
With the Sportage name now used for a small sport wagon, Kia has room for a large body-on-frame SUV. Kia's large 2009 SUV will closely resemble the Mesa concept, a body-on-frame vehicle that is nearly as long as the Ford Expedition. The SUV will offer three rows of seats; the engine bay will be large enough to handle a V-8.
If Hyundai moves ahead with long-range plans to develop a pickup, Kia will get one, too. Expect one brand to get a true four-door pickup while the other gets the extended-cab version with rear half-doors. The pickups could arrive in the 2009 or 2010 model year. Still to be decided is whether the Hyundai pickup will be the size of the Ford F-150 or the Dodge Dakota.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]