BUSINESS

Hyundai to enter compact SUV market with new KONA

By Julie Kim Jackson
  • Published : Apr 3, 2017 - 15:23
  • Updated : Apr 3, 2017 - 18:05
Hyundai Motor has named its upcoming compact sports utility vehicle the KONA, expected to be released in summer, the company said on Monday without specifying the date.

Expanding Hyundai’s family of existing SUV models, including the Sante Fe, Tucson and the Veracruz, the automaker says it is looking to increase its overall competitiveness in both the global market and Korea’s growing domestic SUV market boom.

“KONA is a model that notifies Hyundai‘s entry into the small-sized SUV market that is leading the global SUV craze,” the company said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor Company releases its first teaser image of the company’s upcoming KONA compact SUV release. (Hyundai Motor Company)

In 2013, the compact SUV market in Korea only sold about 12,000 units. As of last year, the number has grown to 107,000 units. By the year 2022, expectations are that the market will exceed 120,000 units, the company added.

KONA will also mark the automaker’s first B segment SUV, which is larger than a compact car, or A segment. But it is smaller than a mid-sized, or C segment, as per the European Commission classifications.   

“We are determined to open up a new era in the domestic and overseas SUV market, and we hope people have high expectations for us to provide the best product of its class,” said a Hyundai official.

As for the domestic market, the upcoming KONA is expected to compete against fellow South Korean automaker SsangYong Motor, which is currently dominating the Korean SUV market.

As of last month, SsangYong’s Tivoli SUV continued to dominate the domestic SUV market despite increased competition, selling 56,935 units last year, according to the company.

Competing against GM Korea’s Chevrolet Trax, Kia’s Niro and Renault Samsung’s QM3, the Tivoli still accounts for 54.3 percent of the market share.

In January and February this year, Tivoli’s market share reached 60.4 percent.

The news of Hyundai’s KONA also comes just days after SsangYong unveiled the world premiere of its new premium SUV, the G4 Rexton -- previously referred to as the Y400 -- at this year’s Seoul Motor Show last Thursday.

In a press conference following the reveal of the new G4 Rexton last week, Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, which owns SsangYong, referred to the vehicle as a signal to the market that SsangYong is the SUV king in Korea.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)