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Hyundai’s Chung pushes hybrid car marketing

Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo has instructed his staff to actively publicize at home and abroad that Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors have become global players with competitive technologies.
Chung Mong-koo
Chung Mong-koo

Despite marked growth in overseas sales, Hyundai and Kia had failed to garner international acknowledgement in the core technology sector.

But this year, Chung’s pride and promotion strategies could clearly be seen from his recent comments on the hybrid version of flagship sedans ― Hyundai’s Sonata and Kia’s K5.

Their hybrid models were launched during the first half of the year.

During his own test driving of the vehicles and visiting Hyundai Motor’s U.S. factory between June and July, Chung called for group executives to implement active marketing activities for the eco-friendly vehicles.

His instruction has particularly been focused on promotion of “100-percent independent” technologies of Hyundai-Kia applied to development of the hybrid Sonata and K5, according to group spokesmen.

The Hyundai chairman has continued to stress that holding high-end technologies is more crucial than any other factors in becoming a truly competitive carmaker.

“While the former hybrid sedan ― Avante LPi ― has failed to attain vast interest in global markets, it seems that chairman Chung has been quite satisfied with the quality of new hybrid sedans,” a spokesman said.

While Hyundai-Kia had introduced hybrid electric vehicles based on the compact cars Avante and Forte with liquefied natural gas-electric powertrain, the hybrid Sonata and K5 are their first gasoline-electric hybrids.

According t
Models pose with the hybrid version of Hyundai Motor’s Sonata during a promotional campaign for the sedan at the COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul on Saturday. (Hyundai Motor)
Models pose with the hybrid version of Hyundai Motor’s Sonata during a promotional campaign for the sedan at the COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul on Saturday. (Hyundai Motor)
o group spokesmen, the electric motor fitted in the two hybrid models is 18 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than those used in hybrid electric vehicles from rival carmakers.

Under the chairman’s instruction, Hyundai Motor has the goal of overtaking Toyota Motor in sales of hybrid sedans in the U.S. The Sonata hybrid has ranked second following the Japanese carmaker’s Prius hybrid.

The sales gap is still wide. The Sonata’s sales reached 1,422 in June compared to 4,340 for the Prius, which has already dominated the global hybrid vehicle market.

But the noteworthy point is that the newcomer Sonata hybrid outpaced other hybrid models such as Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Insight, Honda’s CR-Z and Ford Motor’s Fusion.

Kia Motors saw its sales of the K5 hybrid come to 103 units in the American market last month.

For the marketing activities at home, Hyundai Motor has opened a nine-day event, dubbed, “Sonata Hybrid Brand Day” in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul on Saturday.

The event, which will run through July 31, provides passers-by with opportunity to test drive and offers a variety of gifts including musical tickets.

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