Sales of Hyundai and affiliate Kia in South Korea have been declining but so far, the impact has been mitigated due to the high demand overseas. Hyundai’s domestic sales dropped 9% to 56,022 units but its worldwide sales still increased by 17% to 382,659 units. The demand overseas increased by 24% to 326,637.
Kia’s global sales had a 7% climb to 240,457 vehicles even as domestic sales had a 9% decrease. Eric Choi, an analyst at Shinhan Investment, said that the U.S. market is doing much better than expected while the European market has been sluggish. But Hyundai and Kia continue to grow in Europe and its sales are expected to go higher in the second quarter.
Hyundai anticipates that it will achieve record sales in the U.S. in March to exceed 65,000, signifying a 5% increase from last year. It’s also likely that March 2012 will be its best quarter in the U.S. for the past four years. Analysts believe that Hyundai and Kia may slow down in the U.S. with the returning strength of the Japanese automakers with its new models.
Nevertheless, sales are expected to stay steady in Europe with the March launch of Hyundai's new i30 compact in March and the arrival of Kia's new Cee'd in the second quarter. Hyundai and Kia are targeting a sales revival in their home market by launching new models even as U.S.-built cars are more price-competitive after a free trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea, which took effect on March 15. Notably, it was last year that the free trade pact between South Korea and the European Union went into effect.
With the help of the highly-advanced wind tunnel at Kia’s Research and Development center located at Namyang, Korea, the brand was able to conduct extensive testing resulting in the new Cee’d having that smooth profile. This new model has a coefficient of drag at 0.30, considered as among the best in its segment. It not only helps reduce noise in the cabin but also lowers fuel consumption.
Making this possible are the lamp clusters in the rear that have been carefully profiled, the rear spoiler that has been placed on top of the tailgate, and the smooth covers under the central floor and engine bat. Helping as well is the fact that the angle of the windscreen has been reduced. With a total length of 4,310 mm, this makes the Cee’d longer compared to the previous generation by 50 mm. Meanwhile, ride height has been lowered, reducing the overall height by 10 mm to 1,470 mm.
This combination gives this new model that sportier profile. In addition, even if this new five-door hatchback does utilize a new platform, it still has the same wheelbase as that of the prior version. With a measurement of 2,650 mm, it boasts one of the longest wheelbases especially for a model in the C-segment. Its track has also been made wider.
Thus while the overall bodyshell is indeed narrower by 10 mm, the track in the front is increased by 17mm with the rear one by 32 mm. Enhancing the sporty look even more is the choice of either the alloy 17-inch wheels or the 18-inch version. The result is that the gap on the bodywork and the tires is minimized. According to Kia, the new Cee’d will be exclusively manufactured at the brand’s Zilina factory located in Slovakia.
For the exterior, 10 colors will be offered, five of which are new to the range. The new Cee’d will be the first from the brand to have on its bonnet that new Kia badge. With a more modern look and being sleeker, the design of the badge shows a premium feel. It also utilizes the Kia script through a single raised section in order for it to be detected more easily.