ORLANDO -- Hyundai Motor Co. will boost Tucson production in South Korea to meet rising demand for the redesigned crossover, said John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
In December, Hyundai introduced a new-generation Tucson with a sportier design and drivetrain in an attempt to appeal to singles and young couples. Hyundai's U.S. retailers sold 2,216 Tucsons in January, up from 974 in the same month last year.
"We're going to see a huge jump this year," Krafcik said, without disclosing projections. U.S. sales of the Tucson fell from 52,000 in 2006 to just over 15,000 last year.
With dealer inventory low, Hyundai plans to step up Tucson production at its Ulsan, South Korea, plant in March.
"We'll ramp it up as long as necessary to satisfy market demand," Krafcik said.
He also said Hyundai is benefiting more than any other brand from Toyota Motor Corp.'s safety difficulties.
"A lot of customers look at Hyundai and Toyota together, and much more frequently than before, they're picking Hyundai," Krafcik said Feb. 15 after speaking at an American International Automobile Dealers Association luncheon.
He declined to estimate how many new customers Hyundai might pick up after Toyota's well-publicized recall crisis.
Hyundai, one of the few brands to boost U.S. sales last year, posted a 24 percent gain in January. Toyota brand sales fell 19 percent.
Hyundai also hopes for an increase this year in U.S. sales of its mid-sized Sonata, the company's best-selling domestic model. A redesigned Sonata goes on sale this month.
Sales of the Sonata peaked at 149,513 in 2006, then fell for two years before rising 2 percent to 120,028 cars last year.