Hyundai is transforming from a “value” brand to a “valuable” brand, CEO says

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 12, 2012

Hyundai is turning into a major player in the global industry as it transforms from a "value" brand to a "valuable" brand, according to John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America. He pointed out that in 2011, consumers were willing to pay 96% of a Hyundai vehicle's sticker price. But in 2009, this figure was 86%.

He said that since 2009, the automaker has raised transaction prices by 14% but then, it maintained its reputation for value.

Hyundai reduced vehicle rebates to only 18% of its incentive spending in 2011, a significant drop from only three years ago. He revealed that about three years ago, the prevailing belief was that its dealers can’t sell a Hyundai unit if it didn’t have a “rebate on the hood.” He disputed a notion that Hyundai is an overnight success, saying that it took 25 years to achieve a 5.1% market share in the U.S.

Nevertheless, he said that Hyundai has “an awful lot of way to go” and that it has “big ambitions." Overall, U.S. market climbed 10% in 2011. In particular, Hyundai’s U.S. sales increased by 20% to 645,691 vehicles in 2011, including a 41% rise in Elantra sales and a 15% increase in Sonata sales.

Thanks to the sleek design of the Sonata and Hyundai's expertise in interior packaging, the car features a functional, practical and comfortable interior. In fact, the Sonata – even with its sleek roofline – boasts an interior volume of 120.2 cubic feet, earning a classification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a large car. It is even larger than the Camry, Altima, Fusion and Malibu sedans, which are classified as midsize cars.

In addition, the Sonata offers 16.4 cu. ft. of trunk space – around 9.3 percent and 17.1 percent larger than the Camry and the Accord. At launch, the new Sonata will be powered by Hyundai's new Theta II GDI 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a Gasoline Direct-Injection (GDI) fuel delivery system, making the Sonata the first midsize sedan to adopt GDI technology as standard in a naturally aspirated engine.

This technology features a shorter, more direct path of fuel delivery, allowing for better fuel mixture control at the optimum moments and resulting in enhanced fuel efficiency. Direct injection features a camshaft-driven, high pressure pump that operates up to 2,175 psi and employs a higher than normal 11.3:1 compression ratio.

Meanwhile, the Sonata could be availed with a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control or a standard six-speed manual transaxle. This six-speed automatic A6MF2 transaxle allows for smoother shifts and offers optional manual control through its SHIFTRONIC feature. This all-aluminum, 16-valve cylinder engine also comes with "dished" pistons for a more efficient combustion in the cylinder.

As a result, the new Sonata with six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC returns an estimated fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city/35 mpg highway while six-speed manual version achieves an estimated fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway. This Theta II GDI features preliminary output and torque level of 198 hp and 184 lb.-ft., respectively.

The SE version – featuring a standard dual exhaust – allows up to 200 hp to be produced. In addition, the engine is equipped with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Induction System (VIS). Interestingly, a version of the engine complies with Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards.

Hyundai is planning to introduce next year a 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine and a 2.4-liter Hybrid Blue Drive -- featuring Hyundai's lithium polymer battery pack -- to the Sonata model.

The South Korean carmaker plans to disclose more details about these new engines at the 2010 New York Auto Show. This engine lineup is the key driver of the company’s plans to become the most fuel-efficient carmaker in the world.

Topics: hyundai, ceo

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