Hyundai braces for record U.S. sales next year

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

As the auto industry continues to make profitable strides in the United States, Hyundai Motor Co. predicted this week it will see a record number of sales in 2011.

According to Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik, approximately 12 million cars will be sold in the United States next year. As for Hyundai’s part, it will continue to roll out new and improved versions of its popular models such as the Sonata. Krafcik said Hyundai will finish the year moving approximately 500,000 more vehicles, grabbing a near 5 percent market share in the U.S.

About 11.3 million cars were sold to retail customers so far this year.

If the industry does reach the 12 to 12.5 million mark next year, it will realize a 10 percent increase from 2010. While execs like Krafcik are optimistic, most realize that because retail car sales are closely tied to the housing market and unemployment rates, moving 12 million cars could be a difficult feat to reach.

Although Hyundai has not released official predictions for 2011, Krafcik said sales will continue to grow and exceed sales goals. When the company began selling cars in the United States in 1986, it became known as a low-end manufacturer. Krafcik said the company has since been focused on making cars that seriously compete with other import players like Honda and Toyota, who also entered the U.S. market with inexpensive economy cars.

By 2010, in the midst of a recession, the Korean automaker’s focus has shifted to the ability to deliver quality, budget-conscious vehicles.

“We realized the importance of quality in a way that became very strong and very personal with everyone in the company,” Krafcik said. “That recession kind of drove people to research more deeply, and our product does really well the deeper consumers research, so in a way, yeah, the economic issues really helped our brand come to deliver its full potential.”

Leading the way for 2011 will be a compact Elantra and hybrid mid-size Sonata, which is slated for release toward the end of the year. Hyundai Motor America operates in California, Alabama and Michigan.

From the Nov. 17-23, 2010 issue

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