Hyundai bets on the three-door Veloster and six-cylinder Azera to keep sales momentum

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 27, 2011

The gamble of Hyundai Motor Co. to offer edgier styling to differentiate its vehicles from rivals has proven to be worthwhile as it has achieved two consecutive years of record U.S. sales.

Building on those successes is about to get tougher, as the company is now betting on the six-cylinder Azera and three-door Veloster, encouraged by the success of vehicles like the Sonata and Elantra that helped lure clients from Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.

The decision to develop a strategy around characteristic design still has the legs to further enhance market share well beyond next year, according to John Krafcik, who serves as the chief executive officer of the company's U.S. unit.

He added that for almost all of their models these days, demand is in excess of their ability to supply. He further stated that with the Veloster and the Azera, "you're really going to see this focus on design pay off", according to Autonews. Based on the data of Autodata Corp., the share of Hyundai in U.S. sales has increased 0.5 percentage point in the past year to 5.2 percent in August.

Toyota has declined 2.5 percentage points to 12.7 percent, while Honda dropped 1.5 percentage points after the March earthquake in Japan limited their inventory and disrupted the supply chains. Both companies are returning to full production, with Honda increasing output of its new Civic compact while Toyota is set to commence sales this month of a revamped Camry sedan.

According to senior industry analyst Jessica Caldwell from Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, Calif., the rest of 2011 "may not be as earth-shattering as the beginning has been" for Hyundai. She added that Toyota and Honda will be “more aggressive” in the later months of the year.

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