SHANGHAI – For years, Hyundai Motor Group seemed to be at a loss on how to fix its moribund operations in China, where combined sales of the Hyundai and Kia brands shriveled from a peak of 1.8 million in 2016 to below 360,000 in 2022.
Over the past several months, the Korean auto giant has hammered out a multi-dimensional roadmap on how to operate in the market going forward.
Hyundai Motor Group builds Hyundai-badged passenger vehicles with state-owned Chinese automaker BAIC Motor Co. It also produces cars for Kia with Yueda Group Co., a state-owned Chinese business conglomerate.
After scaling back production due to limited sales in recent years, the two joint ventures – Beijing Hyundai and Yueda Kia – each retain two major assembly plants.
The two partnerships will continue to assemble new and upgraded gasoline models. To boost sales, they will both expand their product lineups with more pure electric vehicles.
Under a plan released in December, Beijing Hyundai will launch four to five locally produced EV models developed on Hyundai’s new EV platform known as E-GMP from 2023 to 2025.
Yueda Kia plans to launch six E-GMP-based EV models in China from 2023 to 2027, according to the “new energy vehicle strategy” it laid out in March.
Under the blueprint, the GT version of the EV6 crossover will be sold as an import in China starting in August.
The EV6 will be followed by two locally built EV models -- the EV5 crossover will hit the market in November, while the EV9 crossover will go on sale in 2024.
Yueda Kia didn’t identify the other three Kia EV models it will launch in the next few years.
Hyundai and Kia now each have only one EV product to sell in China: the battery variant of the Hyundai Mistra sedan and the battery version of the Kia K3 sedan.
By rolling out more EV models, Beijing Hyundai expects its annual EV sales in China to tally 200,000 by 2025. Yueda Kia hopes to raise its yearly EV deliveries to 180,000 by 2027.
To turn around its unprofitable operations, Hyundai Motor Group also plans to boost vehicle exports from the two joint ventures.
Beijing Hyundai targets to increase annual exports to more than 100,000 in 2025.
Yueda Kia plans to turn one of its two plants into “an global export center,” which is expected to boost annual exports to 200,000 in 2026.
From 2016 to 2022, annual sales at Beijing Hyundai and Yueda Kia tumbled from 1.14 million and 650,000 to about 260,000 and below 100,000, respectively, according to the China Passenger Car Association.
By ramping up exports and EV sales in China, Beijing Hyundai aims to lift annual deliveries to 500,000 in 2025 while Yueda Kia expects to boost annual volume to 450,000 vehicles.