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U.S., Japanese cars hope to battle Hyundai-Kia here on U.S. FTA

Three U.S. automakers are expected to pick up their marketing and sales in Korea to battle Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which will take effect early next year.

In addition, a great number of Japanese cars produced in the U.S. will likely be imported under the coming slash in tariff on automobiles.

Tariff on made-in-U.S. automobiles will be lowered from 8 percent to 4 percent under the bilateral trace pact. Further, the 4 percent tariff will be removed in four years.

Ford Motor plans to open seven more showrooms in the local market next year and increase the number of dealerships from the current 15 to more than 30 within three years.

Chrysler Group, which had mostly imported large sedans, will launch small sedans including the Fiat 500 in 2012. The group’s three affiliated brands ― Chrysler, Fiat and Jeep ― will also diversify import models.

GM Korea has opened a big scale dealership in southern Seoul as part of its effort to attain a double-digit market share in Korea.

The three U.S. carmakers plan to cut automobile price tags as soon as the FTA is implemented.

Toyota Korea will introduce about 6,000 units of the new Camry sedan produced in the U.S. factories.

The midsize sedan is expected to heat up sales competition with Hyundai Motor’s Sonata and Kia Motor’s K5.

Nissan, which attracted a great number of Korean customers by launching the box-type vehicle Cube this year, will also import several new models from its U.S. plants.

The second-largest automaker in Japan has set the goal of making the Infiniti series become one of the top three import brands in the premium luxury segment.

To block their dominant market share, Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors are poised to enhance marketing for small sedans and compact cars.

The Korean companies will also unveil new models ― the third-generation Santa Fe of Hyundai Motor and the K9, a luxury premium of Kia Motors.

Hyundai Motor has more than 40 percent of the market while its affiliate Kia Motors’ market share hovers at 30 percent.

U.S. carmakers have long expressed uneasiness about the trade imbalance between the two countries in the automobile sector.

In the U.S. market, Hyundai sold about 7.13 million units in the past 25 years and Kia’s sales came to about 3.68 million units over 17 years.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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