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As China Sales Skid, New Small SUV The Bet For Hyundai Motors

As China Sales Skid, New Small SUV The Bet For Hyundai Motors
With the intention to try and offset its continuous sliding sales in China and in order to catch up with rivals in the segment of sport utility vehicles, Hyundai Motor unveiled its first subcompact SUV named Kona for advanced markets, including the United States, Europe and South Korea.
A smaller SUV and a large SUV by 2020 and an electric version of the Kona small sport utility vehicle (SUV) next year will also be launched by it, the South Korean automaker said.
Because of the political tensions between Beijing and Seoul that have battered sales in China, the company's biggest market and the unpopularity of its mainstay small sedans, Hyundai looks set to miss its sales target for a third straight year and this move and announcement comes at a time when Hyundai looks at such a business scenario.
Hyundai previously missed out on strong growth in the SUV segment in South Korea, the United States and Europe as the company sold subcompact SUVs only in emerging markets and this a draw back for the present after its fall in sale in China for a company which, together with its affiliate Kia, is the world's No.5 automaker.
Hyundai said, citing IHS Automotive data that growing at an annual average of 46 percent from 2010 to 2016, the subcompact SUV is the top-performing segment globally.
"Even as the global SUV market is nearing saturation, we believe that extra small or small SUVs have more room for growth than large SUVs," Hyundai Motor Co Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun said during a launch event near Seoul.
The company plans to roll out the small SUV in Europe in August and the United States in December even as the automaker launched the Kona in South Korea on Tuesday. Next year, the company aims to sell more than 200,000 of the SUV vehicles throughout the world.
In the United States, Nissan's Juke and Honda's CR-V would be the closest competitor for the Kona.
Hit by slowing Chinese and U.S. sales, Hyundai and Kia’s combined sales fell 7 percent over January to May, even though the companies had said in January that they aimed to increase global sales by 5 percent this year.
"Our sales plan has suffered a setback, but we will use this as an opportunity to overhaul our products," said Chung, the only son of Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo.
Instead of buying other automakers, cooperation with technology firms like Cisco, Baidu and Uber would be beefed up by Hyundai, he also said. 
In the launch of the former's subcompact SUV, Stonic, starting next month, Kia will join Hyundai.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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