SEOUL -- Looking to sustain its sales momentum, Hyundai will bring out a series of new and redesigned products in the United States during the next 12 months.
Executives at a press event here described a wave of new models, including redesigns of the Elantra and Accent, a small Elantra-based sporty coupe, the Equus luxury sedan and hybrid and turbocharged versions of the Sonata sedan. Hyundai is also studying a Sonata wagon.
A string of engine upgrades also are in the works.
Over the past two years, Hyundai has moved closer to its three main Japanese rivals in the United States: Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Hyundai's sales are up 23 percent through May in an overall market that rose 17 percent. It was one of only three brands with higher U.S. sales last year.
The American consumer's perception of Hyundai has, until now, been oriented by its lower pricing, but the automaker hopes to change that, said Chang-Hwan Han, Hyundai Motor senior vice president, Americas regional division. "By launching these new models, our brand image in the U.S. will be enhanced," he said. "The purchasing pattern will be changed."
First up are new versions of the Montgomery, Ala.-built Sonata that will debut this fall. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Sonata is designed to compete with V-6 entries in the mid-sized sedan segment. The Sonata Turbo will deliver 274 hp and 32 mpg for a sticker price below $25,000, said John Krafcik, COO of Hyundai Motor America.
A hybrid version, which will have different fascia than the standard Sonata, is expected to get 40 mpg. It will be the first mainstream vehicle on sale that uses lithium polymer batteries. Instead of a continuously variable transmission, the Sonata hybrid will use a six-speed automatic with no torque converter attached, Krafcik said.