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Hyundai prioritizes quality, image

Top Korean carmaker confident of raising U.S. market share to 5 percent

Hyundai Motor Co. will focus on boosting quality and brand image as it steps up its challenge for global automobile leadership, vice chairman Chung Eui-sun said Monday.

“Hyundai’s biggest challenge is to secure competitiveness in terms of quality in order to improve the brand image,” Chung said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Chung, the only son of chairman Chung Mong-koo, was speaking while announcing the company’s new brand slogan “New Thinking, New Possibilities” at one of the world’s largest car trade fairs.

He added that as a company with a relatively short history, Hyundai needs more stringent quality standards.

“As seen from earlier examples (at Toyota), quality issues must be prevented from occurring in the first place,” he said.

The event, which runs to Jan. 23, also provided the stage for unveiling the carmaker’s three-door coupe Veloster and the concept car CURB.
Hyundai Motor Co. vice chairman Chung Eui-sun during his presentation at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday. (Yonhap News)
Hyundai Motor Co. vice chairman Chung Eui-sun during his presentation at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday. (Yonhap News)

Regarding rival carmakers, Chung said that U.S. carmakers’ increasing emphasis on smaller segments was part of a global trend, and that Hyundai has a competitive edge in such segments.

Also at the show, Hyundai Motor America president John Krafcik said that the company hinted at a positive outlook for the operations of South Korea’s largest carmaker in the U.S.

Krafcik was quoted as saying that the company should be able to raise its U.S. market share to 5 percent aided by the launch of a series of new models including the Veloster, Accent and the hybrid electric version of the Sonata sedan.

He also cited increasing output of Hyundai’s plant in Alabama as a positive development for setting higher sales targets.

Last year, the company’s sales in the U.S. increased by 24 percent compared to the previous year, setting a new annual record of 538,000 units.

Following the rise, Hyundai’s U.S. market share also rose to a record high of 4.9 percent.

Aided by the rises in the U.S. and China, the company’s overseas sales for 2010 came in at nearly 2.95 million units, up 22.7 percent from 2009.

Krafcik also said that Hyundai Motor America will continue with aggressive marketing campaigns including sponsoring the Super Bowl, and expand lease financing programs to boost sales.

By Choi He-suk  (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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