Hyundai expects to import 2011 Elantra from Korea to meet U.S. sales demand

Article by Christian A., on January 31, 2011

Hyundai Motor Co. said that it will have to ship the new generation Elantra small car from Korea in anticipation of the 10% U.S. sales increase to 590,000 units predicted for this year.

Sales started last December for the redesigned 2011 Elantra, the first American-made version of the popular compact. Hyundai’s assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala., produces the new Elantra alongside the Sonata sedan.

Hyundai CFO Lee Won-hee said that its forecast of 590,000 units sold in the U.S. in 2011 is up from 538,228 vehicles in 2010.

And as Hyundai’s annual production capacity at the Montgomery plant is only 330,000 units, the vehicles will have to be brought in from Korea. Last year, the plant rolled out about 196,000 Sonatas. In 2010, 132,246 units of the Elantra were sold.

However, Elantra sales more than doubled in December, when the new model arrived, to 13,096 vehicles, compared to 5,763 units in 2009. Spokesman Frank Ahrens said that with the reviews and the pricing of the Elantra, the company is very optimistic about the model.

In terms of dimensions, the all-new Hyundai Elantra measures 178.3 inches in length, 69.9 inches in width and 56.5 inches in height. This means that compared to the previous generation, the all-new Elantra is longer by 0.9 inches and lower by 1.8 inches. In terms of wheelbase, the new Elantra (at 106.3 inches) has been expanded by around 2 inches.

While lower than the previous Elantra, the next-gen model doesn’t sacrifice headroom and even boasts of larger interior space than the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Because of its spaciousness, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t classify the Elantra as a compact car -- unlike the Civic and Corolla – and categorized it as a mid-size car.

In fact, the new Elantra boasts of 110.4 cubic feet of total interior volume, which is more than what the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 2011 Ford Focus, 2011 Honda Civic sedan, 2011 Nissan Sentra and 2011 Toyota Corolla could offer. It is even more spacious than supposedly large models like the Acura TSX (107.1 cu. ft.), VW Passat CC (109.3 cu. ft.) and Nissan Maxima (110.0 cu. ft.).

Thanks to its long wheelbase, the new Elantra is able to deliver best-in-class front seat legroom, offering a whole new level of interior comfort. Furthermore, the new Elantra offers a trunk volume of up to 14.8 cubic feet, which is larger than those of the Civic and Corolla.

Hyundai has the all-new Elantra equipped with a McPherson strut suspension on the front, as complemented by coil springs and gas shock absorbers. On the rear, the Elantra is equipped with a lightweight coupled torsion beam suspension for better levels of steering stability as well as monotube shock absorbers for enhanced ride comfort. The new Elantra is also fitted with 23.0-mm diameter front stabilizer bar that could help reduce body roll during cornering.

All Elantra models are provided with column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering and could immediately adjust various driving conditions. This electric power steering system offers better fuel economy than a conventional one. Aside from boasting of a quick-ratio steering rack, the Elantra has a turning diameter of 34.8 feet, which is better than the 35.6 feet of a Corolla.

Engineering teams for the Elantra were challenged to achieve world-class weight efficiency. They succeeded in doing this, and the 2011 Elantra managed to top its rival in this aspect. In addition, Hyundai engineers were also challenged to achieve leading power-to-weight ratio. These challenging targets allowed the new Elantra to offer higher levels of performance and fuel economy.

Thanks to a more extensive use of high-strength steel, the new Elantra boasts of a 37 percent increase in body stiffness while weighing less. Furthermore, the use of high-strength steel enables the suspension to work optimally.Tipping the scales at 2,701 lbs., the new Hyundai Elantra GLS with an automatic transmission is lighter than its rivals. While lighter, its interior is more spacious than on the Civic, Corolla, Cruze, Civic and Focus. Likewise, the body-bending rigidity of the Elantra is around 50 percent higher than the Corolla. Its unibody architecture enabled the new Elantra to return an EPA-estimated 40 mpg EPA highway rating.

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