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Hyundai, Kia to go full force on SUVs and NEVs next year

Hyundai Motor Group wrapped up its year-end strategy meeting on Tuesday, with plans to expand its SUV and new energy vehicle lines next year.

The group, the owner of South Korea’s two biggest carmakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., will introduce more sport utility vehicles tailored to local markets and new energy vehicle lines to spur growth in 2017, the company said. 

Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)
Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Both carmakers will unveil new small SUVs next year in Korea and in Europe and will also begin producing SUVs at the fourth assembly line in Changzhou, China, to cater to the Chinese market.

It also aims to widen its share in the NEV market with a new lineup of Grandeur hybrid and plug-in hybrid and hybrid versions of Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro next year. The new energy vehicle market is currently led by Japanese carmaker Toyota, which took up 51 percent of the total NEV sales last year. Hyundai and Kia, meanwhile, came forth with a 3 percent market share.

The company also plans to boost sales of its premium brand Genesis with a new product line in Korea and in the US next year, it said.

Analysts see that the company would set a combined sales target of about 8.2 million units for 2017 up from just over 8.1 million units this year, as a forth assembly line was added in Changzhou, China and Kia’s factory in Mexico.

But the next year might pose a difficult year for the group as well as the auto industry. The company estimated the global auto industry would grow 1.8 percent in 2017, the lowest since the financial crisis in 2009.

This year has been challenging for the conglomerate. The group saw its domestic market share drop below 60 percent in October for the first time as imported carmakers have expanded their presence here and it suffered from slow demand from overseas market amid a sluggish global economy.

The group’s official global strategic meeting is usually held for two days but this year’s meeting was stretched to four days to add unofficial sessions attended by 50 heads of Hyundai and Kia overseas sales units, giving them ample time to review this year’s sales and freely discuss strategies for next year instead of just giving reports.

The year’s meeting also discussed various issues and scenarios including a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pledge by US President-elect Donald Trump, slow growth of the emerging markets and an interest rate hike in the US.

On Tuesday, Hyundai Motor’s Vice Chairman Chung Euisun and Kia Vice President Lee Hyoung-Keun led the meeting and the final results will be announced during the first group meeting on Jan. 2 next year.

By Park Ga-young (