LAS VEGAS (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co. said increased production capacity will allow it to sell a record 600,000 cars and light trucks in the U.S. this year as demand for its Sonata and Elantra models grows.
“We’ve now been able to secure production capacity to safely say that we will surpass 600,000 units,” Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president for U.S. corporate and product planning, told reporters here Tuesday.
The South Korea-based company said in January it didn’t have enough production capacity to meet that level of U.S. sales.
Since then, Hyundai has raised output at its Montgomery, Ala., plant that makes Sonatas and Elantras, and it will also have a larger supply of the new Accent subcompact from South Korea than initially planned, O’Brien said in an interview.
Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. are among the fastest-growing automakers in the U.S. this year, with respective sales increases of 29 percent and 45 percent through May. Both are adding models with improved styling and fuel efficiency to win sales from competitors including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., which are struggling with reduced supply after Japan’s record earthquake in March cut output.
Hyundai sold 263,588 vehicles in the U.S. in the first five months of 2011 and could sell more than 630,000 this year if the current pace continues. It delivered 538,228 cars and light trucks last year.
Combined U.S. sales for Hyundai and Kia, which operate separately, were 463,648 through May, behind only GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Chrysler Group LLC. At that pace, full-year sales for the two would total more than 1 million vehicles for the first time.
Hyundai has operated its Alabama plant with daily overtime shifts and some Saturday production since last year to produce at least 330,000 Sonatas and Elantras in 2011, 10 percent more than its planned capacity.
Last month the company said it will spend $173 million and hire 214 people at the Montgomery plant to boost production of four-cylinder engines used in the models.