Hyundai Eyeing a Growing Share of U.S. Auto Market

While industry suffered in 2009, Hyundai surged and now seeks consistent growth.

Hyundai has plans to expand on its 2009 success by nabbing a greater share of the U.S. market with new fuel-efficient models and a strengthened distribution network.

"We have very high hopes for the U.S. and total growth and we're ready for it," said David Zuchowski, sales chief for Hyundai Motor America, at the Detroit auto show.

The Korean automaker increased its market share in the U.S. to 4.2% in 2009 against 3.0% a year earlier, thanks to an 8% Hyundai sales surge in a market that plummeted an alarming 21% overall last year.

For 2010, Zuchowski predicts the U.S. market will reach 11.5 million vehicle sales, about a 10% increase over last year's 10.4 million sold, with the second half of the year better than the first.

"We think that we will increase our sales and our market share," said Zuchowski. "We expect big things this year with lots of new products."

Hyundai was "very ambitious and determined," he said, adding that the company was seeking "consistent" year-on-year growth.

And it believes it has tapped into a vein of consumer economizing and uncertainty over the last year by offering its Hyundai Assurance program, which allows buyers to return their cars if they lose their job.

"The financial collapse forced people to look for value and fuel efficiency," Zuchowski said.

The company also wants to strengthen its distribution network and become "the most efficient company in the industry."

This summer Hyundai will roll out a hybrid version of the Sonata, its first foray into this niche.

"The composition of our market is going to change quickly because of the federal mandate" to boost car efficiency of cars and light trucks, he said.

"Our industry is going to become more like the European industry in the next couple of years, with more smaller cars, but that doesn't necessary means they have to compromise on performance," Zuchowski added.

At the auto show, Hyundai unveiled a snazzy prototype plug-in hybrid coupe, dubbed the Blue Will, which will incorporate the use of bio-plastics.

The brand is committed to reducing the weight of its cars by 10% by 2015.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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