Hyundai Motor Co.'s first subcompact sport utility vehicle will hit the roads in South Korea on Tuesday, a move to boost its lackluster sales.
To offset slowing sales in China and the US, Hyundai is moving to diversify its SUV lineup by launching a variety of models, including a high-performance one, from the smallest A segment to the largest E segment.
In the January-May period, Hyundai sold 1.82 million vehicles, down 6.5 percent from 1.95 million units a year earlier. Given this trend, the carmaker may miss this year's sales target of 5.08 million units.
The Kona SUV is aimed at absorbing growing demand for SUVs in global markets amid an economic recovery and low oil prices.
The new SUV mated with either a 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine or a 1.6-liter diesel engine will be available domestically. The models are fitted with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
It is priced at between 19 million won (US$16,800) and 27 million won for domestic consumers.
The company said it will start the production of the Kona for exports to Europe and US at its domestic plants in August and December, respectively.
It counts Nissan Motor Corp.'s Juke, Honda Motor Co.'s HR-V, Toyota Motor Corp.'s C-HR and Renault S.A.'s Captur (sold as the QM3 here) as rivals of the Kona.
Hyundai aims to export a combined 41,000 units of the Kona to the two major markets this year and 150,000 units next year.
Domestically, it targets to sell more than 26,000 Konas this year and 45,000 units next year.
Kona models equipped with a 1.0 gasoline turbo GDi engine and 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine will be available in Europe. The 1.6 diesel model is scheduled to be launched there next year. In US, the 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine and 2.0 gasoline MPi engine Konas will be sold, Hyundai said.
Meanwhile, Hyundai's affiliate Kia Motors Corp. will also strengthen its SUV lineup by launching the Stonic subcompact SUV next month. Its current lineup includes the Niro, Soul, Sportage, Sorento and Mohave SUVs.
Hyundai and Kia, which together form the world's fifth-largest carmaker by sales, aim to sell a combined 8.25 million autos this year, up from 7.9 million the previous year. (Yonhap)