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Story behind the name of Hyundai’s first small SUV Kona

Kona, Santa Fe and Tucson are all SUVs made by South Korea’s No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor and named after international vacation spots.

Hyundai Motor’s first-ever small-size SUV, dubbed the Kona and slated for launch this summer, got its name from the Kona district, which is a famous vacation spot on Hawaii’s Big Island, the company said. 
A teaser image of the Kona, Hyundai Motor’s first small SUV. (Hyundai Motor Group)
A teaser image of the Kona, Hyundai Motor’s first small SUV. (Hyundai Motor Group)

The name of Hyundai’s soon-to-be released model was also intended to capture the attention of female drivers by reminding them of Kona coffee, one of the world’s top three coffee beans grown in Kona, according to Hyundai Motor.

“Images that come to mind when thinking of Kona are dynamic marine leisure sports and the mild aroma of Kona coffee, which also represents the customer base of small SUVs,” said the company.

“The name Kona was also selected on grounds that female consumers, who tend to prefer smaller SUVs, will feel more familiar with the new model.”

The cascading grill of the Kona was inspired by iron molds pouring out from a blast furnace, while the character lines on each end of the car hood were placed there to emphasize a dynamic and powerful image, Hyundai said.

Besides the Kona SUV, Hyundai’s mid-size SUV Sante Fe was named after an international vacation spot that is also the capital of New Mexico. Kia Motors’ Sorento, a large-size SUV, was named after the coastal town Sorrento in southern Italy.

A well-known resort town in central Italy, Tivoli is also the name of the best-selling small-size SUV here made by SsangYong Motor.

SsangYong Motor, the local unit of India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, triggered the small SUV boom here with the release of the small SUV Tivoli in 2015.

The Tivoli SUV saw total sales of 56,935 units in 2016, retaining its No. 1 position among small SUVs sold here for two consecutive years, the company said.

Female drivers accounted for 21 percent of SsangYong Motor’s sales in 2014 and the figure rose to 33 percent in 2015 when the Tivoli was released, the company said. The proportion of female consumers further rose to 48 percent last year.

The domestic small SUV market recorded sales of 110,621 units last year, compared to 11,998 units in 2012, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The market is expected to total over 120,000 units by 2022, the KAMA said.

Hyundai Motor is seeking to gain a foothold in the rising market through the Kona SUV by fostering sales in major markets, including China, where its sales plummeted 63.6 percent on-year to 35,009 units last month, amid a row over the deployment of a US anti-missile system. It also seeks to diversify models offered.
By Kim Bo-gyung (