South Korea’s largest carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. on Wednesday unveiled a new sport utility vehicle (SUV) designed exclusively for the China market, pinning hope that its localization strategy would help lift slacking sales in the world’s biggest auto market.
The automaker showed off its all-new ix35 SUV at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. It also premiered its all-new Sonata - a face-lift version of Sonata sedan designed to appeal to Chinese drivers.
The all-new ix35 is a replacement of Hyundai Motor’s previous ix35 SUV that raised accumulated sales of 760,000 units. The all-new SUV, which has been developed based on the concept of providing family-centered practicality to consumers, will be available from the fourth quarter of this year.
Hyundai Motor’s Sonata New Rise
Hyundai Motor has boosted performance of the new vehicle by installing 1.4 liter turbo gasoline direct injection (T-GDI) engine or 2.0 gasoline engine, and a 7-speed transmission. The new SUV is 4,435 millimeters long, 1,850 millimeters wide, and 1,670 millimeters high. Its wheelbase - or distance between the front and rear wheels - is 2,640 millimeters.
At the auto exhibition, Hyundai Motor also presented its all-new Sonata, a China-only model of Sonata New Rise, a sedan that was launched in Korea in March. The automaker has improved vehicle design including light emitting diode (LED) daytime running lights (DRL) to satisfy Chinese consumers. The radiator grille of the sedan’s turbo model, for example, is designed with horizontal bars instead of net-shaped ones like those sold in Korea. Sales of the all-new Sonata will begin in the second half of this year.
Hyundai Motor’s localization efforts in China comes amid droping sales due to overall slowing economy, changing consumer taste, and ongoing political tension between Korea and China over the decision to deploy United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Last month, Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors Corp. sold a combined 72,032 cars in China, down whopping 2 percent from the same period last year.
In a bid to raise sluggish sales, Hyundai Motor has decided to continuously release strategic vehicles to allure Chinese consumers and enhance service management program for existing customers. It also plans to localize research and development and save cost to enhance overall product competitiveness.
The automaker is expected to introduce more environmentally-friendly cars and new technologies in the Chinese market. Hyundai Motor said that it plans to gradually apply innovative connectivity features as well as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to all car models from this year and launch new energy vehicles of six models including Yuedong, an electric version of the Avante, in the second half of the year.
At the motor show in Shanghai, Kia Motors also unveiled K2 Cross, a small crossover vehicle available only in China, to expand its presence in the country’s rapidly growing SUV market.
By Woo Je-yoon
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]