LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai's redesigned Santa Fe crossover propelled the brand to its best-ever February, despite slower sales of its top-selling Sonata sedan and slipping market share.
Hyundai posted February sales of 52,311 vehicles, a 2 percent increase from the same month last year. U.S. industry sales rose 4 percent in February.
Through two months, Hyundai sales rose 2 percent to 96,024 vehicles while the industry gained 8 percent.
Last month, sales of the redesigned Santa Fe crossover jumped 64 percent to 6,339 units. The crossover is a five-seater, but later this month Hyundai will add a larger, seven-passenger version.
The Santa Fe gains helped offset lower sales of the Sonata mid-sized sedan, Hyundai's top-selling vehicle, which accounts for roughly a third of the brand's U.S. sales. Sonata sales fell 8 percent to 16,007 units in February, its second straight month of decreasing sales.
John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement that Sonata demand is healthy but some parts of the country are short Sonata stockpiles with trim levels popular in those regions.
After market share dipped last year to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent in 2011, Hyundai could lose U.S. market share again this year. Production constraints are hampering its ability to keep up with industry sales growth.
Hyundai projects 2013 sales of about 730,000 vehicles, which would be a 4 percent gain over last year in an industry expected by some analysts to grow 6 percent to 15.4 million units.
Hyundai's market share through the first two months was 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in the same period of 2012.
Hyundai's Sonata sedan and Elantra compact cars also will be challenged by rivals such as Honda, Toyota, Ford and Nissan, which have newer entries in the compact segment, mid-sized segment or both.
Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales of Hyundai Motor America, in a statement attributed the brand's healthy results last month to improved inventory levels, a strong Presidents' Day sale and improved consumer credit.