Hyundai and its Kia Motors Corp. unit intend to outperform Volkswagen more than three to one in VW's home base, in an attempt to repeat their success in the United States. Earlier this month, VW celebrated its breakthrough year in the U.S. as well as the highest yearly sales in the country since 2002.
However, the celebration proved to be premature, as the Hyundai Elantra sedan beat VW's Passat as the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit car show two days after the celebration. This event emphasizes Hyundai's status as a major rival of Volkswagen.
Allan Rushforth, Hyundai's chief operating officer for the European operations, stated that it is "very important" for the company to be successful in Europe, which is a "top priority" due to the fact that the region affects how the company is perceived elsewhere.
The automaker, which is known for low prices, is hitting on Europe while the debt crisis in the region makes consumers cost-conscious. The mix of reliability and value of Hyundai helped it more than double worldwide deliveries since 2004, outperforming VW's 60 percent growth, according to researcher IHS Automotive.
Last year, sales of VW in the EFTA and EU countries increased 9 percent to 1.68 million units, providing the company a 12.4 percent market share, according to the data from Brussels-based industry group ACEA. On the other hand, sales of Hyundai in the region climbed 11.5 percent to 398,129 units, obtaining a 2.9 percent share of the market. Kia sold 293,960 units in the same period, an increase of 11.8 percent compared to 2010 figures, acquiring a 2.2 percent market share.
Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, commented that Hyundai is one of the "most serious challengers" of VW. He explained that the combination of good value, design and quality is "a solid basis." Also, the company is getting "more innovative" each year, he noted.
“Fluidic Sculpture” is a design process wherein the idea is for the subject to portray motion whilst stationary. It is one of Hyundai's key aims and the Elantra is the next logical step in the process.
When observing the most successful manufacturers of sedans in the US, it is clear there is a theme running throughout the models and in updating the Elantra, which was designed in Irvine, California, at the North American Design Center, there is a choice to ensure the Elantra remains one of the most successful sedans.
The use of the side glass, or Day Light Opening/DLO as designers call them, work in conjunction with the profile to give the vehicle a clear presence and the Elantra uses this and inspiration from the Sonata in its key makeup.
The lines of the vehicle, which flow out of the front door, emphasise this presence and move into the heavy-set wheel arches and across a roofline which is incredibly dynamic. The drag coefficient too has been lowered and when held up alongside many of the other low emission vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, it has a very similar output of 0.28 to the Volt's 0.29.
Elantra's face has been changed to fit more in line with Hyundai's signature designs. For example, the traditional hexagonal front grille has been updated with a set of headlights set back into the grille. This has given the Elantra a more structured, much smaller face. The width of the vehicle has been aided by the addition of alloy wheels. These are available in either 15, 16 or 17” variaties. The exterior changes are finalised with the new distinctive fog lights and side mirrors.
40 MPG POWERTRAIN
A 1.8 liter Nu engine powers the the Hyundai Elantra, this is an all-new four-cylinder design and comes capable of delivering 148 hp with 131 pound per feet of torque, the Elantra PZEV has 145 hp and 130 pound per foot of torque.
Whereas the previous generation Hyundai Elantra had the 2.0 liter Beta engine, the Nu weighs less and is much smaller. This combination has allowed it to be 18% better in conserving fuel and due to the advanced technology of the engine any Elantras which are sold in the Green States such as California, Oregon or the Northeast that are classed by the EPA as Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV).
These PZEV versions are just as environmental as any hybrid electric cars on the market and Hyundai will continue to produce cleaner engines and technology as part of its ongoing commitment to the environment. If you are looking to purchase a Elantra outside of these States, they are classed as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.